The SpectroBox Project

How many colors form sunlight? How many colors can you see in the Rainbow?

 

Questions about light colors and how they mix are very important for understanding the nature around us. Luckily, we can answer many of these questions with simple tools and tricks. A very powerful, while also simple, tool is a spectrometer,¬†which measures amounts of each color in you light spectrum, or range of colors. Spectrometers are essential tools for scientists who want to discover what properties of light can tell us about the light’s source and answer questions like, “why are most plant leaves green?”. Some scientists making very precise measurements use expensive and complex spectrometers, but they can’t take these home with them to look at light there. The SpectroBox is an inexpensive, easy-to-make spectrometer. So easy, you can make your own! All you need is a box, a diffractive material, and the source of light you want to investigate.

We have put together an inexpensive, reliable, and engaging kit for making your own, personal spectrometer. All the designing and cutting has been done, providing easily assembled spectrometers, which we have named SpectroBoxes, light sources (white light and/or low intensity laser pointers), and instructions for assembly and use.

We use the SpectroBox for outreach events, with the aim of bringing light closer to children, as well as the general public. We have successfully brought SpectroBoxes to the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering, schools around Orange County, The Boys and Girls Club in Santa Ana, CA, and UCI Beall Center Family day festivals. You can download the lesson we created for the kit here.

If you are interested in getting your own SpectroBox kits, please contact us at photonics@uci.edu.