Feeds

Polymer droplets turn smartmobes into microscopes

Boffin nearly threw away first lens before realising it could end the daily grind

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

An accidental discovery at the Australian National University (ANU) has created a way to deposit-print small, high-quality optical lenses, in something that's been hailed as “turn a smartphone into an optical microscope”.

Not only that, but they use a material already well-known in optics: polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), which is used to make contact lenses.

Instead of the tedious business of lens-grinding to create high-magnification optics, the researchers have developed a deposition process in which a droplet is allowed to flow over a surface and solidify into the lens.

In the ANU's canned statement, Dr Steve Lee from the ANU Research School of Engineering explained: “We put a droplet of polymer onto a microscope cover slip and then invert it. Then we let gravity do the work, to pull it into the perfect curvature,” Dr Lee said.

“By successively adding small amounts of fluid to the droplet, we discovered that we can reach a magnifying power of up to 160 times with an imaging resolution of four micrometers,” he added.

On its own, of course, the lens isn't much use: Dr Lee then worked with Dr Tri Phan from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research to create a suitable housing. The group is 3D-printing the frame to hold the lens, an LED for illumination, and a coin battery to power the lamp.

The result is a “lentil-sized” and low-cost lens which the researchers envisage could be used for a variety of citizen-science-style applications like identifying fungi or insects on crops in remote areas. With the right apps, the lenses could also be used in biomedical applications.

The release notes that Dr Lee created the first lens by accident, and nearly threw it away until Dr Phan “got very excited” about it. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.