Scientists develop $10 lens-free miniature microscope

Take an imaging chip out of a digital camera, modify it a bit, and what do you get? A minuscule microscope that doesn’t even need lenses to see into the world of inner space. The revolutionary imaging system, developed by scientists at Caltech, uses a series of fluid-filled tubes to move microscopic cells or creepy-crawlies in front of its eagle-eyed chip, taking a series of hundreds of mini-images. Then they’re combined in software to create a composite picture of the critter at hand.

While microscopes have been getting smaller lately, this one’s even-tinier size, $10 cost and formidable power make it a breakthrough. It’ll let doctors in developing countries carry around a powerful pocket microscope that can detect malaria, for instance. Maybe we’ll see such a scope in the cell phones of tomorrow, notifying us of which disease that coughing dude sitting next to us on the plane might be spewing forth. Could be useful.

Via Technology Review