Scientists Save Thousands With a $250 DIY Microscope

By: | December 9th, 2014

Image Courtesy Adam Lynch/Brunel University London

Microscopes are very sophisticated instruments and often require significant investments, sometimes thousands of dollars.

To cut the research costs, a Brunel University London student has developed a DIY microscope.

Dr. Adam Lynch, a postdoctoral candidate at Brunel’s College of Health and Life Sciences, is studying snail immune systems – in particular, how chemical pollutants in water might influence the transmission of Schistosome parasites from snails to humans. The study required more than one device in order to test multiple samples in parallel.

Lynch realized that using a conventional inverted microscope was very expensive so he created his own inverted microscope by adapting three cheap instruments he bought online. He used three digital USB microscopes and clamped them upside-down on a table to produce comparable images to a more expensive inverted microscope.

The cost of this new device, called LOCOMOTIS (Low-Cost Motility Tracking System), is estimated to be under $250. The researchers are now looking at other applications for the LOCOMOTIS microscope system such as medical imaging. It could be beneficial in low-resource settings… in countries where diseases are endemic but resources are limited.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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