When it comes to multimedia devices, cell phones have proved to be tiny high-tech wonders. Now it seems they may soon be doubling as portable laboratories thanks to technology developed by Aydogan Ozcan, assistant professor of electrical engineering at UCLA and a member of the university’s California NanoSystems Institute.
Ozcan has constructed a portable microscope and diagnostic device that combines a cell phone with an imaging platform known as LUCAS (Lensless Ultra-wide-field Cell Monitoring Array). The platform enables the cell phone’s camera lens to act as a microscope. A fluid-sample slide can be placed over the camera lens, which captures the image. LUCAS then compares the image to ones in a specially developed library of images, compiles the data and sends it via the cell phone to a hospital laboratory for analysis.
The cell phone microscope currently can be used to diagnose anemia, malaria and whether an HIV-positive patient has developed AIDS. It can also be used to detect hazardous microparticles in drinking water. The technology could prove extremely useful to medical personnel in disaster situations or in parts of the world where expensive diagnostic equipment isn’t available, UCLA officials say.