Single-nanowire spectrometers

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Science  06 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6457, pp. 1017-1020
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax8814

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Miniaturizing spectrometers

Spectroscopy is a ubiquitous characterization tool spanning most scientific and many industrial disciplines. Most handheld spectrometers are based on tabletop optical components, which limits the scale to which these spectrometers can be shrunk. To address the desire for miniaturized spectrometers with a micrometer-scale (and smaller) footprint, Yang et al. developed such a microspectrometer based on single, compositionally engineered nanowire. This result is a practical step forward for the use of other light-sensitive nanomaterials for such ultra-miniaturized spectroscopy platforms.

Science, this issue p. 1017


Spectrometers with ever-smaller footprints are sought after for a wide range of applications in which minimized size and weight are paramount, including emerging in situ characterization techniques. We report on an ultracompact microspectrometer design based on a single compositionally engineered nanowire. This platform is independent of the complex optical components or cavities that tend to constrain further miniaturization of current systems. We show that incident spectra can be computationally reconstructed from the different spectral response functions and measured photocurrents along the length of the nanowire. Our devices are capable of accurate, visible-range monochromatic and broadband light reconstruction, as well as spectral imaging from centimeter-scale focal planes down to lensless, single-cell–scale in situ mapping.

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