Pocket microscope – turn a cellphone into a microscope for $10

The #1 innovation of 2011 – the pocket microscope – is a marvel of the cellphone age. For $10 a phone can be turned into a laboratory and offer poor areas – with no hospital – access to sophisticated medical tests. From The Scientist:

Diagnosing malaria or other blood-borne illnesses used to require analyzing cell slides under a bulky, costly light microscope—which can be difficult to find in impoverished, remote locations. Enter LUCAS (Lensless, Ultra-wide-field Cell monitoring Array platform based on Shadow imaging), an easy-to-use, pocket-size holographic microscope that weighs less than 50g, uses inexpensive, off-the-shelf parts.

The parts attach to the camera and can analyze blood and saliva samples; testing for diseases like HIV and malaria and discovering water quality problems. Listen to Professor Aydogan Ozcan – the same one who discovered the 3D motion of sperm cells – explain it himself:

 

 

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Scientists discover the motion of sperm cells using 3-D technology

If nature finds the best way, then move in a spiral pattern to get there the quickest, from the UCLA Newsroom:

The team developed a lensless computational imaging platform that accurately tracked more than 24,000 individual sperm cells in a large volume. This involved observing the individual rotations of each sperm cell, including helical movement patterns, rotation speed, and linear and curved distances traveled.

90% of them move in a right-handed spiral – damn I’m left-handed – and they move fast for microscopic entities, 20-100 micrometers/second.

That’s a big difference in speed…one sperm cell could be 5x faster than his brother.

 

Image demonstrating three-dimensional motion of human sperm cells. (source: UCLA)