Cheap, portable microscope uses holograms instead of lenses

While financial contributions are certainly a great help to health care practitioners in developing nations, one of the things that they really need is rugged, portable, low-cost medical equipment that is compatible with an often-limited local infrastructure. Several such devices are currently under development, such as a battery-powered surgical lamp, a salad-spinner-based centrifuge, and a baby-warmer that utilizes wax. UCLA is now working on another appropriate technology in the form of a small, inexpensive microscope that uses holograms instead of lenses to image what can’t be seen by the human eye.

Currently in the prototype stage, the microscope fits in the palm of the hand, and reportedly weighs as much as a medium-sized banana. It is made entirely from off-the-shelf electronics, resulting in a total materials cost of just US$50 to $100 per unit. Although the microscope itself collects raw data, an external laptop, smartphone, or cloud-based system performs all the processing. Power is supplied by two stock AA batteries — via

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