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Photonics technologies used in the Pharma


Photonics technologies used in the Pharma


The main photonics applications areMachine vision and Spectroscopy.

In an article from 2013 in Laser Focus World by Gail Overton states, "Manufacturers of pharmaceutical products are depending on a variety of imagecapture techniques, sophisticated optics, smart networking, and laser-based inspection tools for their machine vision systems to meet volume inspection demands while maintaining product quality and traceability."

It continues by stating "Nearly every portion of the pharmaceutical manufacturing process, from drug synthesis to integrity testing as well as final packaging and label tracking, requires some form of machine vision inspection. Whether testing colored pills, foil packaging for absorption-based patches, syringes for missing or broken components, 2D data matrix codes, and even 3D Braille labeling, pharmaceutical manufacturers are depending on sophisticated optics, laser-based inspection, and software tools to meet rising volume demands for product inspection."


Machine vision system solutions in the pharmaceutical industry (a) need to keep up with new trends, such as the incorporation of laser-marked labels on packaging. Software in the Microscan I-PAK system is used to perform a quality check on laser-marked code (b); these systems can also check and grade the quality of 1D and 2D bar codes and data matrix codes.




The smart cameras and OCR algorithms that process pharmaceutical images are only as good as the clarity and accuracy of the images presented. Consequently, machine vision systems depend on a variety of physical optics to obtain crisp images that are easily processed.

The ultimate in anti-counterfeiting assurance is to physically verify that the drug in the package is the actual medication intended for the patient. One way to achieve this level of authentication is to incorporatespectral analysis capabilitieswithin the machine vision solution.

"Innovations in Raman spectroscopic techniques provide a potential solution to current problems in pharmaceutical drug monitoring." States an article "Recent advances in nano-photonic techniques for pharmaceutical drug monitoring with emphasis on Raman spectroscopy" published in Nanophotonics 2019.  Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is using micro- and nano-structured materials to make the best use of the available laser power. Besides SERS, Fiber-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (FERS) is used, and Fiber-array based Raman chemical in imaging for drug monitoring. Spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (SORS) allows the detection of analytes below a non-absorbing cover material, such as in the case of packaged pharmaceuticals. Enantioselective Raman spectroscopy (EsR) and Raman optical activity (ROA) are specific Raman techniques for the identification and quantification of chiral molecules. Both techniques take advantage of the optical activity of chiral molecules. Optical activity describes the phenomenon that the interaction of polarized light with left-handed or right-handed enantiomers leads to different effects. These are some of the photonics technologies that are used in the pharma industry not to mention the chromatography and fluorescence Spectroscopy.



Link: PHOTONICS APPLIED: MACHINE VISION: Pharmaceutical manufacturing embraces unique machine vision solutions | Laser Focus World

Link: Recent advances in nano-photonic techniques for pharmaceutical drug monitoring with emphasis on Raman spectroscopy in: Nanophotonics Volume 9 Issue 1 (2019) (


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