Recent advances in inkjet-printed optics have created a new class of lens fabrication technique. Lenses with a tunable geometry, magnification, and focal length can be fabricated by dispensing controlled amounts of liquid polymer onto a heated surface. This fabrication technique is highly cost-effective, and can achieve optically smooth surface finish. Dubbed DotLens, a single of which weighs less than 50 mg and occupies a volume less than 50 μL. DotLens can be attached onto any smartphone camera akin to a contact lens, and enable smartphones to obtain image resolution as fine as 1 µm. The surface curvature modifies the optical path of light to the image sensor, and enables the camera to focus as close as 2 mm. This enables microscopic imaging on a smartphone without any additional attachments, and has shown great potential in mobile point-of-care diagnostic systems, particularly for histology of tissue sections and cytology of blood cells. DotLens Smartphone Microscopy represents an innovative approach fundamentally different from other smartphone microscopes.
In this paper, we describe the application and performance of DotLens smartphone microscopy in biological and biomedical research. In particular, we show recent results from images collected from pathology tissue slides with cancer features. In addition, we show performance in cytological analysis of blood smear. This tool has empowered Citizen Science investigators to collect microscopic images from various interesting objects.
We present a highly repeatable, lithography-free and mold-free method for fabricating flexible optical lenses by in situ curing liquid polydimethylsiloxane droplets on a preheated smooth surface with an inkjet printing process. This method enables us to fabricate lenses with a focal length as short as 5.6 mm, which can be controlled by varying the droplet volume and the temperature of the preheated surface. Furthermore, the lens can be attached to a smartphone camera without any accessories and can produce high-resolution (1 μm) images for microscopy applications.