Monday, November 09, 2009

Cellphones adapted into microscopes (Is there an app for that?)

Using software he developed and about $10 of standard off-the-shelf parts, a solid-thinkin' dude named Aydogan Ozcan has converted camera-equipped cellphones into rather powerful microscopes.

When set up with the package, a cellphone like the Samsung model in the photo can image blood cells and bacteria. The phones can then send the data over a wireless network or be connected via USB to laptop computers. The potential for such devices are vast, considering that a doctor equipped with such a cellphone could diagnose malaria or other illnesses in very remote locations. What's particularly interesting from a technical perspective is that Ozcan's 'scope does NOT use lenses for magnification at all! It achieves microscopy by using the phone's camera to measure the scattering/interference pattern from light-emitting diodes shining on the sample. In other words, the package creates a magnified hologram of the sample being studied.

Very, very cool. Aydogan Ozcan has already started a company to further develop and market his work. No doubt it will be successful.