Many of us are lucky as we have access to doctors that themselves can access the best medical tools. In impoverished and less developed nations though, doctors may not have access to such technology. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles though have developed a microscope attachment for smartphones that should help.
To see many objects too small for our eyes to discern, we can turn to a microscope to reveal it. For objects that are smaller than the wavelength of visible light though, such as some viruses, special microscopes are needed. These microscopes can be bulky and expensive, making it impractical or impossible for doctors in less developed countries to use. The UCLA researchers however decided to change that by designing a fluorescent microscope that can be fabricated by a 3D printer. With the addition of a color filter, external lens, and laser diode for illuminating the sample, the smartphone attachment can resolve particles just hundreds of nanometers in size.
When tested the device was able to detect single human cytomegalovirus particles, which are between 150 and 300 nm, as well as marked fluorescent polystyrene beads just 90 to 100 nm in size. All of that from a device that weighs less than half a pound.