“Water quality, blood samples, environmental observation, early disease detection and diagnosis—these are all areas where our technology can be easily used to good effect.”
Orth also sees significant benefit in developing countries for the device.
“Powerful microscopes can be few and far between in some regions,” he says.
“They’re often only found in larger population centres and not in remote or smaller communities. Yet their use in these areas can be essential - for determining water quality for drinking, through to analysing blood samples for parasites, or for disease diagnosis including malaria.”
To ensure that the technology can be used the world over, the files for the 3D printing of the microscope clip-on are being made freely available for download.
“Ideally, a phone microscope should take advantage of the integrated flash found in nearly every modern mobile, avoiding the need for external lighting and power,” Orth says.
“It should also be as compact and easy to assemble as possible. It is this design philosophy that inspired us in the development of this add-on clip.”
The new phone microscope has already been tested by Orth and his CNBP colleagues in a number of areas, successfully visualizing samples ranging from cell culture, to zooplankton to live cattle semen in support of livestock fertility testing.
The research has been published in Scientific Reports, DOI 10.1038/s41598-018-21543-2.
The CNBP is an Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence, with research focused nodes at RMIT, the University of Adelaide and Macquarie University.
A $40m initiative, the CNBP is focused on developing new light-based imaging and sensing tools, that can measure the inner workings of cells, in the living body.
Story: Gosia Kaszubska