How Chemicals Left Behind on Your Phone Could Identify You

Your phone is uniquely yours in more ways than you realize. Chemicals found on your skin, or even expelled through your skin, land there and can be identified using mass spectrometry, according to research from the University of California, San Diego.

The paper, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined mass spectrometry, which sorts chemicals by weight, as a tool for criminal profiling. Those chemicals that you leave behind can tell a lot about you, if you know what to look for.

“Most molecules that are found on our skin are coming from molecules from our lifestyle,” says Amina Bouslimani, a postdoc at UC San Diego and lead author of the paper. “Then we thought, OK, what if these molecules can be transferred to objects that we use daily, like phones, computers, keys or wallets? If this is possible, we might be able to learn about individual

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