Researchers have used 3-D printing to make an inexpensive and portable high-resolution microscope that is small and robust enough to use in the field or at the bedside. The high-resolution 3-D images provided by the instrument could potentially be used to detect diabetes, sickle cell disease, malaria and other diseases.
“This new microscope doesn’t require any special staining or labels and could help increase access to low-cost medical diagnostic testing,” said research team leader Bahram Javidi from the University of Connecticut. “This would be especially beneficial in developing parts of the world where there is limited access to health care and few high-tech diagnostic facilities.”
The researchers describe their new microscope, which is based on digital holographic microscopy, in The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters. The portable instrument produces 3-D images with twice the resolution of traditional digital holographic microscopy, which is typically performed on an optical table in a laboratory. In addition to biomedical applications, it could also be useful for research, manufacturing, defense and education.