A smartphone-based chip-scale microscope using ambient illumination

Seung Ah Lee, Changhuei Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Citations (Scopus)


Portable chip-scale microscopy devices can potentially address various imaging needs in mobile healthcare and environmental monitoring. Here, we demonstrate the adaptation of a smartphone's camera to function as a compact lensless microscope. Unlike other chip-scale microscopy schemes, this method uses ambient illumination as its light source and does not require the incorporation of a dedicated light source. The method is based on the shadow imaging technique where the sample is placed on the surface of the image sensor, which captures direct shadow images under illumination. To improve the image resolution beyond the pixel size, we perform pixel super-resolution reconstruction with multiple images at different angles of illumination, which are captured while the user is manually tilting the device around any ambient light source, such as the sun or a lamp. The lensless imaging scheme allows for sub-micron resolution imaging over an ultra-wide field-of-view (FOV). Image acquisition and reconstruction are performed on the device using a custom-built Android application, constructing a stand-alone imaging device for field applications. We discuss the construction of the device using a commercial smartphone and demonstrate the imaging capabilities of our system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3056-3063
Number of pages8
JournalLab on a chip
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Aug 21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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