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Scientists Release a How-To For Building a Smartphone Microscope

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Components of the smartphone-based microscope.

University of Houston researchers not only have developed a smartphone microscope, but also have released an open source dataset with instructions for anyone interested in building one.

Credit: University of Houston News

Researchers at the University of Houston (UH) have released an open source dataset offering instructions to anyone interested in building their own smartphone microscope.

They have demonstrated that a basic smartphone equipped with an inexpensive inkjet-printed elastomer lens can be converted into a microscope that performs fluorescence microscopy.

"All the pieces can be made with a [three-dimensional] printer," says University of Houston professor Wei-Chuan Shih. "It's not something that belongs just to the lab."

The researchers are still working on improving the technology, and they recently engineered a platform, made of low-cost cost parts including LEGO bricks and plastic imaging components, to ensure high-throughput quality inspection of the inkjet-printed lenses.

Conventional tabletop microscopes shine light through the sample from above, but the new UH technology launches the light from the side of the slide, a process that Shih notes is both less expensive and less complicated to operate.

From University of Houston News
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