Hundreds of separate spots on this flake of silicon can be engineered to change color in response to many different chemicals (Image: Sailor Lab/UCSD)
Silicon chips change color when exposed airborne chemicals (Image: Sailor Lab/UCSD)
A new kind of supermacro lens will resolve fine details in the patterns of color change to identify specific chemical hazards (Image: Credit: Sailor Lab/UCSD)
A far cry in terms of both size and capability from the “bricks” of just over a decade ago, the smartphones of today are virtual offices and entertainment arcades that fit in your pocket. As we reported last month, America’s Department of Homeland Security is examining whether the ability to detect dangerous airborne chemicals should be the next function that mobile phones add to their ever-expanding utility belts. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have now begun work on a prototype sensor that could help map airborne toxins in real time.
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