A smartphone-based microscope attachment developed at UCLA is sensitive enough to detect viruses and nanoparticles, allowing sophisticated biomedical testing in places where laboratory facilities are not available.
The lead developer behind the new device, Aydogan Ozcan, says the microscope attachment weighs less than half a pound and can be attached to a variety of smartphones.
To counter this, Ozcan’s microscope attachment uses a color filter, an external lens, and a laser diode that illuminates the sample at a steep angle of around 75 degrees. This oblique illumination avoids the problem of scattered light detection that would otherwise interfere with the fluorescent image. All the components are housed in a 3D printed case that attaches to the phone.
“These results constitute the first time that single nanoparticles and viruses have been detected using a smartphone-based, field-portable imaging system,” noted Ozcan, who envisages that the device could be used for the detection of bacteria and viruses in remote and resource-limited environments.
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