Photo: (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
Aydogan Ozcan, an electrical engineering professor at UCLA, invented the LUCAS microscope back in 2010. The tiny device attaches to a cell phone and can detect life-threatening diseases like malaria and tuberculosis in drinking water.The device, which only costs $10 to manufacture, is revolutionary because it makes it possible to do complicated medical testing in developing countries.
“Microscopes are bulky, difficult to carry around and expensive,” Ozcan told us in an interview. “I wanted to help create a medical infrastructure that was feasible for the developing world.”
He gave a presentation to some colleagues about the need for his microscope and why it works so well.
First, Ozcan explains the ubiquity of cell phones around the world, including in developing countries.
Then, he explains how cell phones could be used as a practical platform for medical testing in developing countries.
The medical community currently needs a way to test for malaria and other bacteria that infect drinking water and makes it unsafe.
Right now, the device that tests whether drinking water is clean can cost more than $100,000 and is too bulky for practical use.
Ozcan thought that if he could invent a small microscope, it could be used to count cells and look for disease.
He built the LUCAS device, which is a high-powered microscope small enough to attach to a cell phone. The device can also adapt to different environments.
The device works by detecting the shadows of cells. But cell shadows aren't opaque like human shadows. They have more dimension, making it possible to see irregularities easily.
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