Droplet Lenses

By harnessing the natural shape of water droplets, ANU researcher Dr Steve Lee has invented a new way to make microscope lenses capable of collimating light and magnifying up to 160 times with an imaging resolution of four micrometers, yet costing less than a cent.

Opportunity

Optical microscopes have been a valuable tool for scientists for centuries, with the basic method to make microscope lenses dating back to the 16th century. Now, by harnessing the natural shape of water droplets, ANU researcher Dr Steve Lee has invented a new way to make microscope lenses capable of collimating light and magnifying up to 160 times with an imaging resolution of four micrometers, yet costing less than a cent. The lenses are compatible with many devices including the humble smart phone. This technology taps into the current citizen science revolution, which is rapidly transforming owners of smart phones into potential scientists. The mobile phone microscopes could potentially transform the field of microscopy, revolutionizing science and medicine in developing countries where they could be used for remote medical diagnosis.