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Researchers transform iPhone into high-quality medical imaging device
Date:10/3/2011

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3In a feat of technology tweaking that would rival MacGyver, a team of researchers from the University of California, Davis has transformed everyday iPhones into medical-quality imaging and chemical detection devices. With materials that cost about as much as a typical app, the decked-out smartphones are able to use their heightened senses to perform detailed microscopy and spectroscopy. The team will present their findings at the Optical Society's (OSA) Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO) 2011, taking place in San Jose, Calif. Oct. 16-20.

The enhanced iPhones could help doctors and nurses diagnose blood diseases in developing nations where many hospitals and rural clinics have limited or no access to laboratory equipment. In addition to bringing new sensing capabilities where they are needed most, the modified phones are also able transmit the real-time data to colleagues around the globe for further analysis and diagnosis.

"Field workers could put a blood sample on a slide, take a picture, and send it to specialists to analyze," says Sebastian Wachsmann-Hogiu, a physicist with UC Davis' Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Center for Biophotonics, Science and Technology, and lead author of the research to be presented at FiO.

Microscope Makeover

The group is not the first to build a smartphone microscope. "But we thought we could make something simpler and less expensive," Wachsmann-Hogiu says.

His first attempt took simplicity too far. "We started with a drop of water on the camera's lens," he says. "The water formed a meniscus, and its curved surface acted like a magnifying lens. It worked fine, but the water evaporated too fast."

Then the team turned to ball lenses. These are finely ground glass spheres that act as low-powered magnifying glasses. The team used a 1-millimeter-diameter ball lens that costs $30-40 USD in their prototype, but mass-produce
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Contact: Angela Stark
astark@osa.org
202-416-1443
Optical Society of America
Source:Eurekalert  

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