Aydogan Ozcan’s research group at UCLA has invented an inexpensive, lightweight device that can be attached to a cell phone, allowing the cell phone to be used as a microscope.
This article from the Science Communication Program at UC Santa Cruz describes how the device uses a 5 megapixel cell phone camera to create a 200-500 megapixel image with resolution comparable to that of a conventional microscope. Part of the process involves “pixel superresolution”, in which multiple low-resolution images of the same object from slightly different angles can be combined into a single high-resolution image.
The result is a cell-phone mounted device with sub-micron resolution, capable of creating detailed images of cells. (A micron, also called a micrometer, is a millionth of a meter: 1 μm = 10-6 m.)
In the video below, Ozcan explains how the device could be used to improve health care in remote locations: