Aydogan Ozcan, an associate professor of electrical engineering at UCLA, is working on a low-cost microscope that uses the silicon sensor found in mobile phone cameras. According to Ozcan, his microscope, which currently has a resolution of one millionth of a meter, which is powerful enough to reliably image the malaria parasite.
While a traditional microscope can have a six-figure price tag, Ozcan believes his microscopes can be produced for under $10.
According to CNN, the device, dubbed LUCAS (Lensless, Ultra-wide-field Cell monitoring Array platform based on Shadow imaging), clips onto to the back of a standard cell phone (minus its lens) and comprises of an LED light, a spatial filter, and a slot for a medical slide. It works by passing light through a slide sample which creates shadows of individual cells on the phone’s digital camera sensor positioned below.
Ozcan has plans to test the microscope in malaria clinics in Brazil later this year, and with proper funding, hopes to have a marketable product in 18-24 months.