• By using tiny amounts of strange, light-sensitive inks, the team has designed a working spectrometer that’s small enough to fit on your smartphone. Because of the tool’s simple design and its need for only an incredibly small amount of the inks, Bao says, his spectrometer only requires a few dollars worth of materials to make.
  • Here’s how it works: Bao prints a tiny grid of 195 different-colored liquid inks directly onto a flat sensor. Each of the 195 windows is made of a material called colloidal quantum dots, and each absorbs certain wavelengths of light, and lets others go. When light hits each window and travels through, the underlying sensor records how the light changed.
  • Because spectrometers are so widely used in science, Bao sees a rainbow of possible uses for his new device. For one, he says, his spectrometers could be easily integrated into commercial smartwatches and phones, allowing everyday people to do things like self-identify skin cancer.

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