Optics startup Quantune set to revolutionize the monitoring of biometrics

Via the Rochester Business Journal

Berlin-based tech-startup Quantune Technologies is leveraging patented optics, photonics and imaging technology to introduce a low-cost, miniaturized QCL spectrometer for biomedical consumer devices and industrial applications.

The company is one of 10 companies participating in Luminate NY, a NextCorps accelerator program in downtown Rochester, and competing for additional funding. It is working with Luminate leaders and their extensive network of OPI experts in the region to bring its technology to market, making it available for research and OEMs.

We caught up with Quantune’s Co-founder and CEO Jan F. Kischkat, a physicist, to better understand the intricacies of creating the first chip-sized laser spectrometer and how the product can revolutionize non-invasive monitoring of molecular biomarkers, for instance helping diabetics monitor glucose levels from a wearable device.

The evolution of Quantune’s OSEC over the years shows how the company scaled down its size to improve portability.

Tackling the limitations of laser spectrometry

Spectroscopy looks at the mid-infrared spectral range, known as the “molecular fingerprint region,” giving it the highest quality and richness of any technique used for molecular sensing and analytics. This makes it especially useful for a multitude of medical, pharmaceutical, and environmental fields, yet infrared spectroscopy remains a small and fragmented market due to the expensive and bulky equipment it requires.

In 2012, while a Senior Physicist on laser systems at Humboldt University in Berlin, Kischkat set out to bring IR spectroscopy into new markets by making tiny, high-quality tunable IR laser modules with broad applicability.

“We identified the fact that the cost driver of this type of tunable infrared light source is its complex optical system that is difficult to assemble and maintain,” said Kischkat. “To solve this, we transferred the system complexity into a new set of monolithic semiconductor components in a passively self-stabilizing system.”

After seven years of fundamental research, Quantune was created and Kischkat and his co-founders spent four years working with multiple contract research organizations to develop the key components of a new solution, miniaturize the system and cut cost through scalable batch production processes.

Quantune’s product, OSEC, is a micro-Quantum-Cascade Laser (QCL) module with ultra-wide tunability for molecular sensing and analytics in the spectral fingerprint region. With a fraction of the size and cost of other solutions, OSEC is designed to replace FTIR and EC-QCL systems in many applications. It will also enable manufacturers of analytic instruments to leverage the data quality and richness of MWIR and LWIR in markets that were previously closed to infrared sensing due to the inhibitive cost and size of existing light sources.

The infrared sensors and instruments market is currently valued at around $10 billion, according to Kischkat. Additionally, OSEC is designed to replace many Short-Wave Infrared and Raman spectrometer solutions and open new markets previously closed to molecular sensing applications, potentially transforming a $240 billion industry.

The company’s initial focus is on the high-quality fundamental research market. It plans to later transition to the OEM module market of analytic instrument manufacturers.

Luminate paves the way for Quantune

Working within the current Luminate cohort, Kischkat said he hopes Luminate’s network can help them attract new customers, forge strategic partnerships, and secure additional funding.

“Quantune is working hard to harness the power of laser optics and make them accessible to researchers and manufacturers across industries,” said Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, managing director of Luminate. “We are confident that their innovative thinking and drive will help bring their technology to market and help to transform spectrometry as we know it.”

For more information, visit https://quantune.com/. To watch startups in Luminate compete for $2M in follow-on funding, register for the free Luminate Finals event on September 27 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM at https://bit.ly/LumFinals2023