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Unique lens turns smartphone into microscope

Tue, May 05, 2015, 12:40 PM
Washington, May 5 , 2015: Researchers from the University of Houston have created an optical lens that can be placed on smartphone to magnify images and provide schools and clinics a low-cost alternative to the conventional equipment.

It can magnify images by a magnitude of 120 -- all for just three cents (Rs.1.20) a lens.

"The lens attaches directly to a smartphone camera lens without the use of any additional device. It makes it ideal for use with younger students in the classroom," said Wei-Chuan Shih, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

For the study, researchers captured images of a human skin-hair follicle histological slide with both the smartphone-PDMS system and an Olympus IX-70 microscope.

At a magnification of 120, the smartphone lens was comparable to the Olympus microscope at a magnification of 100 and software-based digital magnification could enhance it further, the team reported.

The lens is made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a polymer with the consistency of honey, dropped precisely on a preheated surface to cure.

Lens curvature and magnification depends on how long and at what temperature the PDMS is heated.

The resulting lenses are flexible, similar to a soft contact lens, although they are thicker and slightly smaller.
"Our lens can transform a smartphone camera into a microscope by simply attaching the lens without any supporting attachments or mechanism," the researchers wrote.

The strong, yet non-permanent adhesion between PDMS and glass allows the lens to be easily detached after use.
Agency: IANS
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