UCLA develops holographic, cell phone-powered microscope

Scientists are going to perform research on HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, with the help of a cell phone and a brand new kind of microscope.

UCLA’s California Nanosystems Institute has developed a “lensless microscope,” providing a lighter and more flexible solution to studying bacteria, micro-sized parasites, and other materials.

Instead of a lens, the microscope uses holographic shadows and can be operated with a mobile phone or PC. The main objective during the trial phase is to use the microscope to study fatal diseases that still have a lot of questions to be answered.

“We would like to have this microscope work as something that could diagnose infectious diseases like malaria, HIV and tuberculosis,” said Aydogan Ozcan, the leader of the research project, in an interview with Eweek.com.

“The unit works using diffraction, which entails capturing images through shadows. An LED illuminates the specimen, and a detector array records patterns from the shadows as the LED light bounces off the cells in the sample,” explains Eweek.

The project has received more than half a million dollars in funding, including $400,000 from the National Science Foundation and $100,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Other potential projects for the microscope could include studying post-earthquake material and studying diseases in pets.