How photonic technologies can help the agriculture industry to analyse food samples without contamination

ETICC is a project led by Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies and Aston Institute of Materials Research, which offers small and medium businesses specialist knowledge and expertise to help them develop new solutions, products and processes.

Main key areas of project activity are:

  • Photonics (science and technology of light)
  • Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering
  • Industrial Biotechnology
  • Nanotechnology
  • Advanced Materials
  • Micro / Nanoelectronics
  • Digital technologies
  • Data and system integration


The £2.8m project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

Eligibility: You qualify for support if you:

  • The SME will need to be located in the Grater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP) and the Black Country LEP.
  • Have received less than 200,000 Euros State Aid in the last three years
  • Meet the EU definition of a small or medium-sizes enterprise-employing fewer than 250full time staff (or the equivalent), with an annual turnover of up to 50milion Euros and/or an annual balance sheet of up to 43 million Euros

How we can help you:

The Enabling Technologies programme can provide specialist early stage /new product development services to help small businesses overcome technical and resource barriers. This includes access to the specialists, capabilities and state of the art analysis facilities available in the Aston University Institute of Photonic Technologies and Aston Institute of Materials Research.

The project can also assists businesses with finding grant funding and preparing grant applications, refer to specialists in relevant external organisations, such as Intellectual Property Office, Department for International Trade and other, identify opportunities for collaboration across Aston University and across wider region.

Food Spectrometer

Please meet Research Associate, Dr Hani Kbashi, whose current research interests include: Fibre optic amplifier and laser; Ultrashort mode-locked fibre laser; Optical Rogue waves; Optical nonlinear dynamics.

Hani during ETICC project was helping the agriculture industry to create an analysing tool for fruits and vegetables that will not contaminate it.


Using spectroscopy techniques, we obtain data on the fruit or vegetables ripeness, quality, types of bacteria’s and possible pathogen traces. Performing these tasks without contamination is one of our main objectives. While also making this a more affordable option compared to other industrial bulk spectrometers. The spectrometer will use absorption/reflectance and transmission. This research would lead to rapid identification of components of food and advancement of the technology.


  • The food samples will be analysed using selective absorption. This occurs when the energy of the incident light waves corresponds to one of the excitation states of the biological substance. Pigment molecules of vegetables and fruits show resonances in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum (380 to 780 nm) due to their conjugated structure.
  • Formula pigments are typically classified into three main groups based on their structure. These groups are phenol derivatives, carotenoids, and chlorophylls each of which has corresponding absorption bands and appearance in vegetables and fruits. Based upon information in food tables, we determined which pigments are present in a specific food product.



Interest in food spectrometers has grown in recent times. It has experienced rapid change with the creation of handheld spectrometers and the application of cloud computing.

Aston is developing low cost, simple to use concept demonstrators of this technology, which could find many applications particularly food content, source, age and freshness verification.


Please get in touch to see how we can support you:

Project Manager - Dr Valentina Barker, Tel: +44(0)750 115 4789

Project Administrator for Business Engagement –Gosia Dzierdzikowska Tel. +44(0)121 204 3872



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