Ben Hickman, a graduate and undergraduate student, was developing a chemistry project called potentiostat, under the guidance of Dr. Jack Summers. His project generated interest among the teachers and students in school, and also the citizens who wanted to monitor their water quality. But what was actually required was a UV/Vis spectrometer, which was an expensive project.
After numerous attempts to make the spectrometer failed, the 3D printing technology with the aid of an expert Brain Lee was incorporated into the project. The spectrometer was finally developed and this project entails the use of ready products to analyse the chemical composition. This project is a part of the publiclab.org movement, which aims to democratize the scientific tools used in this testing.
The spectrometer can be installed with a base equipment of $100 and usage of cuvettes, and can be beneficial to even low budget educational institutes and localities.
Currently engaged in the University of Hawai’s Oceanography department in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology , Hickman made this highly expensive technology of testing water quality, available at affordable rates.
The spectrometer works by sampling a certain amount of light through a device called diffraction grating and then refracting it through a charge coupled device (CCD). Different molecules absorb different amounts of light and it helps in determining the components of a sample.
There are huge projects coming up in this field, some of them are adding a GUI system for various computing platforms, automated injection system design, fluorescence measurement capability added to the spectrometer, CDOM and turbidity, and designing an autonomous data logger so that these devices can be used for field operations.