Ultra-Cheap Microscopes Could Save Millions of Lives


By Joni Blecher
Joni Blecher is a freelance writer who has spent her career covering tech and a myriad of lifestyle topics. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring the food scene in Portland, Oregon.

The microscope is one of the quintessential symbols of science, invoking images of researchers in white lab coats looking for the next big breakthrough. As a kid, you may remember using one to get your first glimpse of paramecium in pond water or to view the cell structure of an onion. Microscopes have been saving lives for decades by helping diagnose any number of deadly diseases, but in many parts of the world, they are in short supply.

That’s about to change. Technology is transforming smartphones, iPads and even paper into durable, ultra-portable microscopes that only cost a few dollars to make.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory created a small device that clips onto a smartphone or tablet, turning the camera lens into a microscope. They used a 3D printer to create the attachment, which holds an inexpensive glass bead that provides the magnification. Once attached, you can hold a standard glass slide and with the specimen you want to magnify —> Read More Here


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