The Loh Down On Science

Micro Microscope

A Caltech scientist builds a microscope so small it could fit into your iPod.

The latest application for your iPhone is a MICROSCOPE?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh, with the Loh Down on Science

Saying it could be soon, thanks to engineer Changhuei Yang of the California Institute of Technology. He's built a microscopic microscope so small it could fit into a cell phone.

Yang built the mini-marvel by peppering an ultra-thin sheet of metal with tiny holes, less than one-millionth of a meter across. The metal covers a stamp-sized light-sensing microchip. Over that, Yang placed a transparent specimen compartment.

The mini 'scope works much like any kid's shoebox camera: sunlight is filtered through the pinholes onto the sensors. As, say, a hookworm wriggles over the holes, the modified light patterns produce a series of images, consisting of light and shadow. Pieced together, they create an image with stunning detail.

Without expensive lenses or long eyepieces, it's uber-portable, and CHEAP to mass produce-- TEN bucks each.

The devices would provide on-site testing for malaria and other disease-causing organisms in remote villages, battlefields. . . or even your local salad bar! If that's a capability you really want your iPhone to have. I just like a calendar--thanks!


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