Bob Michaels

April 15, 2013

1 Min Read
Turning Cell Phones into a Microscopes

Based on a cell phone camera, electrical and bioengineers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed a technology that can capture images from a fluorescent microscope and flow cytometer. Among other applications, the new device is capable of performing medical diagnostics.

While fluorescent microscopy and flow cytometry are widely used in biomedical research and clinical diagnosis, they are relatively bulky and costly. The UCLA researchers' technology overcomes these limitations by relying on the computing power of the cell phone.

The technology integrates wide-field fluorescent microscopy and imaging flow cytometry tools on cell phones using compact, light-weight, and inexpensive optofluidic attachments, according to an article and video in the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). Fluorescently labeled cells are flushed through a microfluidic channel positioned above the cell phone camera. Battery powered light-emitting diodes are butt-coupled to the side of this microfluidic chip, which providing a light source to uniformly excite the fluorescent targets.

The phone camera records a time-lapse movie of the fluorescent cells flowing through the microfluidic channel. Using a similar optofluidic design, the researchers can also image these fluorescently labeled cells in static mode by, for example, sandwiching the fluorescent particles between two glass slides and capturing their fluorescent images using the cell phone camera, which can achieve a spatial resolution of ~10 ?m over a large field of view of ~81 mm2.

"There is a huge need for these [miniaturized] devices," remarks Aydogan Ozcan. "Resource-poor countries demand compact, cost-effective, and lightweight devices to replace bulky equipment common in our labs and hospitals. These devices bring the diagnostic, testing, and microanalysis capabilities of larger machines to your cellphone."

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