University Engineering Student Invents Cheap Point-of-Care Fluorescence Microscope

Pathologists take note: device created with off-the-shelf parts rivals accuracy of $40,000 model!

Pathologists know the engineering complexity and expense of today’s state-of-the-art fluorescence microscopes. Now comes news that a Rice University biomedical engineering student has developed a portable, battery-operated bright field and fluorescence microscope that rivals the performance of reference-standard devices retailing for as much as $40,000!

The student, Andrew Miller, developed the 2.5-pound microscope as part of his senior project in 2009, working with faculty in Rice 360˚: Institute for Global Health Technologies. Miller’s project was intended to develop diagnostic tools for underdeveloped countries. He calls his instrument the “Global Focus microscope,” Remarkably, he built it using off-the-shelf parts that cost just $240. The light required to power the 1,000-times magnification microscope comes from a top-mounted LED flashlight.