Novel spectroscopic sensor for screening nutritional and quality traits of field crops

A novel sensor for the screening of field crops, one example being the amino acids in soybeans. This allows the quality and nutritional value of the soybeans to be evaluated quickly and simply. This technology would benefit not only farmers and producers of soybeans and soy products, but also consumers by manufactures to know the quality of the ingredients received to be monitored.

The Need

Nutritional components of soybeans, specifically their amino acid profiles, are important when evaluating the quality of soybeans. Currently, the only methods for evaluating soybean nutritional traits are to either send samples to a lab for testing, which is costly and takes several weeks to complete, or to use the recently commercialized handheld near-infrared optical techniques, which only provide total protein levels, not amino acid profiles. So, a need exists for farmers and soybean producers to be able to quickly identify soybean amino acid profiles in real-time.

The Technology

The technology is a handheld optical sensor that quantifies the presence of essential amino acids. The sensor works by collecting optical spectroscopy data of soybean samples. The data is then analyzed using advance chemometric algorithms. This results in an amino acid profile that can be obtained in a matter of seconds. Further, the engineering concept for the technology has been developed to integrate low-cost, commercially available components in creating the self-contained sensor system.

This invention represents an improvement over the current methods and technologies available for soybean nutritional quality assessment. One important advantage of this technology is its ability to obtain real-time amino acid profiles. Currently, this can take several weeks, which is far too long to satisfy the needs of soybean producers. Further, the device is mobile, allowing individual farmers to analyze their own products, instead of requiring samples to be analyzed in a lab. The fast, simple, and powerful analyses that can be accomplished make this invention highly useful and vastly applicable. Soybean farmers, crop distributors, and food producers would all benefit immensely from this technology.

Commercial Applications

  • Crop farming and distribution (for animal or human consumption)
  • Ingredient quality monitoring
  • Food production


  • Fast
  • Simple
  • Inexpensive

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