Modern smartphones feature incredible image sensors that are much better than professional equipment from only a few years ago. They’re great for microscopy and simple attachments in front of the lens can give great views of blood, cells, and other specimens. The only problem is that the sample has to be illuminated and having LEDs inside of smartphone clip-on microscopes made them quite large.
Now engineers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics in Australia have developed a clip-on dongle that uses the phone’s built-in light, or even the sun, to bathe the samples in light and magnify them to a resolution below 1/200th of a millimeter.
Both brightfield and darkfield microscopy is possible with the device and it has already been verified for imaging animal and plant cells, as well as for assessing sperm motility. There’s no batteries to think about nor any other electronics to break. The attachment is purely optical in nature.
The device can be printed and schematics are available for download.
Here’s a great example of what an iPhone with the unpowered microscope attachment is capable of:
Study in Scientific Reports: A dual-mode mobile phone microscope using the onboard camera flash and ambient light…