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Smartphone microscope uses a small glass sphere for lens

Microscopes that are used in labs and educational institutes around the world are expensive devices. They are also typically rather large and bulky meaning that they can’t easily be taken into the field for work on site in many instances. A new and inexpensive smartphone attachment has been designed that can turn your mobile device into a microscope on the cheap.

The smartphone microscope was developed at the US Department of Energy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. It is made using a 3D plastic printed clip that holds a small glass sphere. The tiny spheres are very cheap at about a penny each and are used commonly for making reflective runway markings at airports.

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The microscope made at the lab is very compact at about the thickness of a typical smartphone case and has 1000x magnification. Lower magnification versions with 350x or 100x are available as well. The overall cost of the plastic clip and the glass sphere to make the microscope is under a dollar.

The scientists who created the smartphone microscope say that it works particularly well with the iPhone. However, it can be used with any smartphone on the market including Android devices.

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