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Putting a 'third eye' in our pockets

By Xing Yi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-01 09:09

Putting a 'third eye' in our pockets

Bao Jie (center) with his team of researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing. [Photo provided to 环球资讯]

Imagine you're trying to know if the apple you bought two weeks ago is still good.

Now, imagine you can scan it with your phone and it'll tell you.

Tsinghua University professor Bao Jie has developed a small spectrometer that can literally identify bad apples in the bunch.

It can also diagnose skin disease and detect air pollution, among other functions.

Spectrometers measure changes in light when it interacts with matter in ways that detect more than the naked eye. They've long been used in research, but their size had previously hampered their applications for daily use.

Bao's team developed one as small as a coin. It may cost only a few dollars once mass produced.

"Everyone will have a 'third eye' to see hidden realities," the 34-year-old scientist says.

They were able to shrink the device using quantumdot nanotechnology.

Quantum dots, which were discovered in the early 1980s, are semiconductor crystals that are just a few nanometers in size. They absorb different light wavelengths when their size changes.

Bao got the idea of using this feature to create miniature spectrometers when he was doing post-doctoral research with Moungi Bawendi at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States from 2010 to 2013.

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