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Bake your own droplet lens
Date:4/24/2014

ed polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). First, drop a small amount of PDMS onto the slide. Then bake it at 70 degrees Celsius to harden it, creating a base. Then, drop another dollop of PDMS onto the base and flip the slide over. Gravity pulls the new droplet down into a parabolic shape. Bake the droplet again to solidify the lens. More drops can then be added to hone the shape of the lens that also greatly increases the imaging quality of the lens. "It's a low cost and easy lens-making recipe," Lee says.

The researchers made lenses about a few millimeters thick with a magnification power of 160 times and a resolution of about 4 microns (millionths of a meter)two times lower in optical resolution than many commercial microscopes, but more than three orders of magnitude lower in cost. "We're quite surprised at the magnification enhancement using such a simple process," he notes.

A 3-D Printed Microscope for $2

Their low costlow enough to make them disposableallows for a host of uses, he says. In particular, the researchers have built a lens attachment that turns a smartphone camera into a dermascope, a tool to diagnose skin diseases like melanoma. While normal dermascopes can cost $500 or more, the phone version costs around $2. The new dermascope, which was made using a 3-D printer and is designed for use in rural areas or developing countries, is slated to be commercially available in just a few months, Lee says. A similar smartphone-based tool can also help farmers identify pests out in their fields.

Lee also envisions that the lenses could be used in the lab as implantable lenses that biologists can use to study cells in vivo. The high cost of conventional lenses usually dissuades scientists from implanting them into mice, he says.

The lenses would also be ideal for hobbyists or as part of low cost mobile microscopes that can be distributed to kids and other members of the public for educational or outre
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Contact: Angela Stark
astark@osa.org
202-416-1443
The Optical Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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