Skip to comments.Your Smart Phone could be a High-Resolution Microscope
Posted on 04/29/2014 9:51:22 AM PDT by null and void
By successively adding small amounts of fluid to the droplet, we discovered that we can reach a magnifying power of up to 160 times with an imaging resolution of four micrometers. Photo courtesy of Stuart Hay, Australian National University
Australian scientists have invented a simple and cheap way of making a high-powered lens that can transform a smart phone into a high-resolution microscope. Costing less than a cent, the lenses promise a revolution in science and medicine in developing countries and remote areas.
The lens fabrication technique was invented by Dr. Steve Lee from The Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Engineering, who collaborated with Dr. Tri Phan from Sydneys Garvan Institute of Medical Research to find ways to transform the lentil-sized lens into a medical imaging tool.
The lenses are made by using the natural shape of liquid droplets.
We put a droplet of polymer onto a microscope cover slip and then invert it. Then we let gravity do the work, to pull it into the perfect curvature, Lee said.
By successively adding small amounts of fluid to the droplet, we discovered that we can reach a magnifying power of up to 160 times with an imaging resolution of four micrometers.
The polymer, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), is the same as that used for contact lenses, and it wont break or scratch.
It would be perfect for the third world. All you need is a fine tipped tool, a cover slip, some polymer and an oven, Lee said.
The first droplet lens was made by accident.
I nearly threw them away. I happened to mention them to my colleague Tri Phan, and he got very excited, Lee said.
So, then I decided to try to find the optimum shape, to see how far I could go. When I saw the first images of yeast cells I was like, Wow!
Lee and his team worked with Phan to design a lightweight 3D-printable frame to hold the lens, along with a couple of miniature LED lights for illumination, and a coin battery.
The technology taps into the current citizen science revolution, which is rapidly transforming owners of smart phones into potential scientists. There are also exciting possibilities for remote medical diagnosis.
Phan said the tiny microscope has a wide range of potential uses, particularly if coupled with the right smartphone apps.
This is a whole new era of miniaturization and portability image analysis software could instantly transform most smartphones into sophisticated mobile laboratories, Phan said.
I am most able to see the potential for this device in the practice of medicine, although I am sure specialists in other fields will immediately see its value for them.
Lee said the low-cost lens had already attracted interest from a German group interested in using disposable lenses for tele-dermatology.
There are also possibilities for farmers, he said. They can photograph fungus or insects on their crops, upload the pictures to the Internet where a specialist can identify if they are a problem or not.
The lens-making technology is described in the latest issue of Biomedical Optics Express, published by The Optical Society.
View a video about the lens here.
I wonder if this could be adapted to camera zoom lenses to reach even further out on images.
Once when I was about 15 or so, I was in my living room with a bright sunshine coming through the windows. We had a lamp that was made out of a large, like 5 gallon, dark brown glass jar. The sunshine created a glint on the jar. Not sure how or why cause I don’t remember, but I wound up positioning myself so that I was getting closer and closer to the glint in the jar. I wound up getting so close, that a tear formed in my eye that bridged the gap between my eye and the glint on the surafce of my eye. And then WOW, a microscopic world came into focus and I could see clearly hundreds of microscopic organisms and detrius in that teardrop as it was swirling and flowing over my eye. It was an amazing few minutes.
So anyway, I know this will work because I have seen this effect with mine own eye.
Screwed it up, meant to say that a tear formed that bridged the gap between my eye and the glint on the jar.
Dude. ..I believe u
Have you called into Coast to Coast AM?
I’d like that. That good glass costs a fortune. Think of the application on say a 100 mm macro lens that I use a lot.
The locking hub text was done with a Canon 100mm, 60D, and a high hat tripod.
During the snow and ice show (global warming) and being stalled at home, I did this with the same body and lens plus used a small Neweer video light. This is runoff from the hood of my old Willys Jeep.
Does he live in Colorado?
Where’s swordswallower to tell us that iPhones have even better resolution?
Not yet, I'd need to work in an alien, some secret ancient knowledge, and a corporate/government conspiracy in there somewhere. This was just a luckily shaped drop of water strategically placed with a light source behind it and a (possibly stoned) 15 year old placed in an awkward position to observe it.
Here is another macro jeep warn locking hub.
I can “see” where that could actually happen, especially with young eyes.
Thanks for the photo links, very nice stuff!
Thank you for the kind words. Every now and the I make a few bucks. I also do it mostly to keep my irrelevant video production skills sort of in use in case something comes around to show. Partly is to give a poke in the eye to certain people in my old line of work who think they control who does what in terms of video production.
Granted I don’t make the big freelance bucks like the connected elites that I know but I don’t have to. The IT transition took a while but paid off.
Were by any chance ingesting any interesting chemicals at the time?
And they'll charge an extra $50 per phone for it.