iPhone add-on creates cheap-sell microscope

Chris Brandrick
15 October, 2011
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Take a close look at the images below. They look like fairly typical photos taken with a microscope, except they were taken with an iPhone.

The highly detailed snaps are magnified 350 times thanks to a recently created microscopic lens, and it was all done for around $50.

The low-cost makeshift microscope comes courtesey of researchers at University of California, Davis.

Creating the smartphone-friendly microscope is a relatively straightforward process. The UC Davis team took a cheap 1mm ball lens, put it on a rubber sheet and simply mounted it atop an iPhone’s camera (this trick should work with just about any smartphone camera, though).

The UC Davis report details that the spherical shape of the aforementioned ball lens makes the above images possible. The positioning of the mounted lens creates a small in-focus area, which results in the magnified photo. A little bit of post-processing work is applied to clean up the image.

This sort of technology could be useful for doctors working in developing countriesm due to, as the researchers put it, the “growing demand for high-quality health care in regions of the world where medical infrastructure is below levels found in developed countries.”

The low-cost ad-hoc microscopes are generating a lot of interest, especially when compared to more expensive, professional microscopes.

You can read the full peer-reviewed paper on the PLoS One Website.

Microscope image component by Wolfgang Lehmann via Wikimedia Commons.

One Comment

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  1. yabbietol says:

    This is the type of applied scientific research using common widely available materials really does provide significant benefit o students and medical staff in poorer countries. We need more of this type of thinking. Well done to the UC people.

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