A team of researchers from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has invented a low cost 3D-printed attachment which is capable to turn smartphones to a mini microscope.  The smartphone when attached to this 3D device will be able to detect a single DNA strand as well as analyze them to diagnose diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Inside the 3D attachment, you can find external lens, a thin-film filter, a miniature dovetail stage mount and a laser diode. Completed with a software interface on the smartphone itself, it is able to scans the DNA and sends the data to a remote server in the laboratory. However, this will need an internet connection and it only takes 10 seconds to get the result.

The device can accurately size DNA strands of 10,000 base pairs and above.  Normally, many important genes fall in between this range. Unfortunately, it becomes less dependable for strands below 5,000 pairs. However, this can be fixed by replacing the external lens.

The device was built by Professor Aydogan Ozcan and team. It is built in the hope to assist the patients in third world countries as well as in the remote areas more conveniently. Before this device came about, there were previous attachments which can do the same thing when they are attached to the smartphone comes with a high price and some of them are bulky.

For more information, you can read up the open access article here.