DIY Universal framwework for smartphone microscopes (Here: Blackberry Passport)

Well.. Demand on imaging small structures is widely increasing. In 3rd world countries diagnosis of parasites like malaria is becoming more and more important. Also judging over the water quality is of great importance. General public has hardly any money to spent for those kind of technologies, so why not using things which are around already? I’m not the first one taking this into account, but want to give some inspirations on how a smartphone microscope could look like.

This one was also thought as a present for someone who has a BLACKBERRY PASSPORT, but the upper case for the smartphone can be exchanged to any other case you find. You could either glue or use the two drills to attach it to the main body.

Other parts are the LED-flashlight which can be bought on ebay for about 2 €. It has 9 bright LEDs. Adding a diffusor (a paper-sheet) converts it into a more less good illumination source for this thing. Next additional part other than these 3D printed parts is a mirror which reflects the incoming light under an angle of 90 degrees right in the aperture of the reversed used-smartphone optic. One can use a broken Sony camera , remove the sensor and then take the lens as the microlens. The optical layout looks like that:

I had the chance to use our university ZEMAX license to verify my assumption of the high optical quality of these lenses. This setup consists of two objectives. Right part is the inbuilt optic imaging objects on the sensor, the left part represents the additional objective in reversed order. This results in a -1 copy of the object. The small pixels of the sensors allows a high magnification on the LCD. That’s the idea majorly..

An additional condenser lens placed between the led and the mirror increases the light throughput and enables Köhler illumination on the cheap. Another addition is an aperture which is placed in the focal plane of the condenser lens thus enables manipulation of some phase contrast methods like the known differential phase contrast where one half of the pupil is shaded and allows to capture the usually unseen phase of an object.

The entire microscope is modular and consists of four parts which are:

  • The bottom plate (fix with screws M3 to the mainbody)
  • The mainbody (holds the LED, slide holder and case)
  • The slide holder (holds glass slides in the specified format)
  • The mirror holder (this one is movable to adjust the mirrorsize used)
  • Optional: The smartphone case (This one could be any!)

The project is also available on thingiverse. If you have any questions feel free to contact me!


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