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DIY Fluorescence Microscope uses 3D Printed Parts and Smartphone Camera

Picture of Hanna Watkin
by Hanna Watkin
Nov 25, 2018

It's possible to build your own low-cost fluorescence microscope – just use either a USB microscope or a DSLR with 3D printed parts and follow the tutorial from maker Jonathan Bumstead.

Who hasn’t wasted time in science class, staring into a microscope at the grossest thing they could find in the classroom? Microscopes found in high school usually result in bright-field image results.

But, you may have come across fluorescence microscopy too. This works by labelling specific structures in a sample with fluorescent dyes. Only cells treated with dye light up so you can clearly see only what you want to study.

However, fluorescence microscopes are typically very expensive to buy. Thankfully, Jonathan Bumstead, a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in Saint Louis, has a 3D printing method which will enable any biohacker with access to a printer the ability to create a DIY fluorescent microscope.

This DIY approach requires access to a 3D printer, a ring of LEDs controlled by an Arduino, a computer, and either a USB microscope, a DSLR, or a smartphone camera. Learn more about the process of fluorescence microscopy in Bumstead’s video:

Great Solution for a Hobbyists

Bumstead 3D printed the entire microscope with space for samples, a filter rack, and a base which can pop off so that you can position it ready for use.

To prove that it works, he demonstrates his DIY microscope in the video. In true hacker style, Bumstead uses highlighter marker to stain the threads and places them on tissue paper for his demonstration.

The results show up on a live feed via Digital Viewer on Bumstead’s computer which proves that the microscope will work to allow the emission wavelength to pass through the camera.

This microscope is pretty great for anyone interested in biohacking. But, of course, the device is not up to lab quality in terms of optics. Regardless, if you’re interested in fluorescence microscopy this is a great place to start and will save you a few hundred dollars.

You can learn how to create your own low-cost fluorescence microscope by following Bumstead’s tutorial over on Instructables. He also has many other interesting projects over on his website.

Source: Hackaday

Fluorescence Microscope

License: The text of "DIY Fluorescence Microscope uses 3D Printed Parts and Smartphone Camera" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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