A team led by Aydogan Ozcan, a professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, Los Angeles, has created a portable smartphone attachment that can be used to perform sophisticated field testing to detect viruses and bacteria without the need for bulky and expensive microscopes and lab equipment. The device weighs less than half a pound.

The device can discern a single human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) particle measuring no more than 130-150 nanometers, and also was able to distinguish nanoparticles ¯ specially marked fluorescent beads made of polystyrene ¯ as small as 90–100 nanometers.

In research published in the American Chemical Society's journal ACS Nano, Ozcan details a fluorescent microscope device fabricated by a 3-D printer that contains a color filter, an external lens and a laser diode. The diode illuminates fluid or solid samples at a steep angle of roughly 75 degrees. This oblique illumination avoids detection of scattered light that would otherwise interfere with the intended fluorescent image. The device attaches directly to the camera module on a smartphone.

 

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