MSc Thesis subject: DIY Field Spectrometer (visible and near-infrared)

Are you interested on citizen science and keen to develop sensors/instruments that can reach a broad range and empower communities?
The analysis of light spectra can be used for many environmental applications; yet, the use of such techniques are hampered by the high costs of instruments (usually over $10k).
Nevertheless, the technology/components necessary for such instruments are now available, at a low cost, in a global scale.
Consequently, the development of a quality low cost DIY field spectrometer would allow communities to detect oil spills and contamination on ocean water, algae blooms, plant N levels or simply the total amount of sugars in a brew wort.
This project aims to develop and document a low-cost field spectrometer, which is both spectrally and radiometrically reliable. Sequentially, the instrument should be used in a case-study selected by the candidate.

Spectral analysis on the visible and near-infrared range can be used for a wide range of application. The low-cost of components has made it accessible to developing countries as well as underprivileged communities keen to have a higher level of understanding about the environment that surround them.
Despite the large number of DIY spectrometers available online, not many can be regarded as trustworthy due to the low-quality of measurements.
To this aim, our department has a number of high-end spectrometer which can be employed as a benchmark for the instrument developed by the candidate.

The successful development of an instrument can lead to a wide range of end-uses; such as water pollution maps, chemometrics, validation of satellite and drone data, plant nutritional assessment etc.
This project is design to provide the candidate with the necessary knowledge to pursue a career on both the research, academia or private sector.


  • Develop an understanding of optics and biophysics related with spectral measurements.
  • Select a design for a field spectroradiometer and a specific case study.
  • Document through tutorials (Instructables style) and how-to videos so the project can reach a broader audience.



  • Enthusiasm and “I can do it “ attitude.
  • Ability to reach out to different experts, establish an achievable plan and execute it.
  • High school physics/optics and a DIY approach.

Theme(s): Sensing & measuring, Empowering & engaging communities