Spectrometer system designs have evolved rapidly over the last decade after a major paradigm shift occurred as spectroscopy
systems advanced from bulky lab based instruments to the modern compact, flexible, and portable instruments
we see today. Previously, these complicated tabletop laboratory instruments required controlled conditions to function
and were extremely expensive. That changed with the introduction of compact fiber coupled microspectrometers that
combined innovative compact designs with low-cost detectors developed for high volume commercial applications.
The miniature spectrometer dramatically broadened the applications and markets for spectroscopy. No longer did users
have to carry the sample to the spectrometer, now they could take the spectrometer to the sample enabling thousands of
new applications. Over time, the performance and benefits of these compact systems have improved. The recent development
of CMOS sensors and imagers and extremely powerful compact microprocessors has enabled a new phase of
even more compact spectroscopy systems.
Until recently optical coatings have been one area that existed primarily in the macro realm. Entire optical surfaces
could be coated quite easily with various thin film optical coatings. However precise deposition of patterned optical
filter coatings was limited by the use of metal masking. Similarly, the dicing and bonding of individual filters together
to form an assembly is a tedious process, with miniaturization limited by handling and dicing constraints. We are
reporting on a new class of lithographically patterned dielectric thin film coatings that enables precision placement and
patterning of dichroic and multilayer thin film coating features on a single substrate down to the micron scale. Because
the process relies on precision microlithography instead of cut metal masks to pattern the deposited coatings, features
(coated areas) as small as 5 microns can be produced, with spatial registration to adjacent coated areas within 1 micron.
Furthermore, we report on new developments which involve patterning optical thin film filter on active photodetector
substrates. The possibility of now using active devices with patterned dielectric optical filter arrays opens up a wide
landscape of new opportunities in solid-state spectral sensing, from more precise color detection to enhanced