Users may soon be able to now build their own microscope with nothing more than a smartphone and basic supplies worth $10 (roughly Rs. 600) from a hardware store.
The do-it-yourself microscope project is being undertaken by students at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
The students are enrolled in two biological sciences courses taught by Terry Wilson, an associate teaching professor.
In one of the courses, students are building their own digital microscopes using carriage bolts, nuts, wing nuts, washers, plywood and Plexiglas from a hardware store, laser pointer lenses, LED click lights from a keychain flashlight to build a stand, and a smartphone for viewing and enlarging lab specimens.
The Do it yourself microscopes can magnify samples up to 175 times with a single laser pointer lens, or nearly 400 times when stacking two lenses, said Daniel Miller, who earned his master of science degree in biological sciences from Missouri S&T.
Miller created a prototype to use in Wilsons General Biology lab, where he served as a teaching assistant.
Wilson was looking at commercial kits and online versions of microscopes, but was not satisfied with what was available.
When Miller showed her his prototype, "I was blown away by it. I was really shocked by how good a job it does," she said.
In commercially available biology lab kits, "the microscope is usually the most expensive thing. This is much more cost-effective. Its the perfect solution for us," Wilson said.