Seeing objects smaller than the wavelength of light, such as viruses, typically requires scanning electron (SEM) or stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopes. These are bulky technologies that are expensive and impractical for use outside a laboratory. A new technology in the form of a smartphone case from researchers at UCLA now offers the ability to visualize fluorescent tagged viruses and nanoparticles down to 100 nanometers in diameter.
The system shines a laser light at 75° onto the sample and a special color filter is used block scattered light that would otherwise fuzzy-up the image. The remaining light is captured by the smartphone camera and results show up right on the screen.
From the study in ACS Nano:
We tested the imaging performance of this smart-phone-enabled microscopy platform by detecting isolated 100 nm fluorescent particles as well as individual human cytomegaloviruses that are fluorescently labeled. The size of each detected nano-object on the cell phone platform was validated using scanning electron microscopy images of the same samples. This field-portable fluorescence microscopy attachment to the cell phone, weighing only 186 g, could be used for specific and sensitive imaging of subwavelength objects including various bacteria and viruses and, therefore, could provide a valuable platform for the practice of nanotechnology in field settings and for conducting viral load measurements and other biomedical tests even in remote and resource-limited environments.
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Study in ACS Nano: Fluorescent Imaging of Single Nanoparticles and Viruses on a Smart Phone
UCLA press statement: UCLA researchers’ smartphone ‘microscope’ can detect a single virus, nanoparticles…