Skip to content

Saumil Bandyopadhyay’s Nanoscale Infrared Detector

At age 15, teenager Saumil Bandyopadhyay invented a new device that is revolutionizing multiple industries and winning him deserved acclaim.


Conversation Club

  1. Saumil Bandyopadhyay opens the video by explaining that he is not very good at soccer and not very good at playing the violin. This is by way of explaining that he spends all his time in the lab, doing research. What do you think of a teenager having such an intense focus at such a young age? Is there one thing that you spend most of your time doing?
  2. Bandyopadhyay designed a device that detects infrared and ultraviolet emissions. Why do you think it might be helpful to see whole ranges of color that are hidden to the naked eye? Can you think of examples?
  3. The video lists an array of industries and areas of study that could be impacted by Banyopadhyay’s invention, and one of the examples that appears on the screen is climate change. How do you think seeing infrared and ultraviolent emissions might be helpful in better understanding climate science?
  4. What are some other possible ways to use a device that detects infrared and ultraviolet emissions? How does the affordability of the device play into its uses and applications?
  5. Bandyopadhyay states that one of the reasons why his invention is so useful is because it does not require huge quantities of expensive liquid nitrogen. He also says that his device only costs around 50 cents to produce. How could a cheap and therefore “mass-producible” device like this be beneficial? Would you want such a device, if it really were very cheap?
  6. Bandyopadhyay remembers how clumsy he was when he first started working on this project in the lab. He then went on to produce a first prototype only six months later! What lessons might you take from his story about dedication and hard work? Can you think of examples in your own life of things that seemed initially challenging but ended in success? How did you accomplish this? What are some important qualities of overcoming a challenge?
  7. Bandyopadhyay explains that, in terms of scientific research, nobody cares if you discover something that is already known, but innovation and ingenuity are key. What do you think he means? Do you think that view is specific only to science or is it true of other industries or jobs as well? What are some examples of innovation and ingenuity that you know?
  8. For fun, what do you wish you could see with the aid of a device, like this one or another, real or imagined? Can you think of other examples of information that is hidden from humans, but would be interesting to be able to see if technology were to make it possible?

Video Series

This video exists as part of a series gathered around the theme of Education. Other videos in this series are listed below.

Saumil Bandyopadhyay’s Nanoscale Infrared Detector
Saumil Bandyopadhyay’s Nanoscale Infrared Detector
Adam Steltzner Looks Beyond Mars
Adam Steltzner Looks Beyond Mars
Smithsonian's Climate Change Statement
Smithsonian's Climate Change Statement
Bill Morrison’s masterpiece of found footage
Bill Morrison’s masterpiece of found footage
Expanding College Opportunities
Expanding College Opportunities
Is Human Evolution Over?
Is Human Evolution Over?
Voice of Witness
Voice of Witness
A Passionate Educator
A Passionate Educator