Dr Tri Phan and Dr Steve Lee
10 September 2014
Garvan’s Dr Tri Phan and Dr Steve Lee from Australian National University (ANU) have won the 2014 ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology, one of 15 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes awarded this evening at an Award Dinner in Sydney Town Hall.
The pair developed a simple and cheap way of making a high-powered lens that can transform a smart phone into a high-resolution microscope.
Presented annually by the Australian Museum, the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of research & innovation, leadership, science communication & journalism and school science.
The concept behind the ‘DIY Droplet Lens’ is very simple. The lenses are formed using droplets of the polymer used to make soft contact lenses, then baked upside down in an oven, using gravity to pull them into shape.
The resulting baked droplet lens (the size of a lentil) is then placed over the camera lens of a smartphone, along with a light source, enabling 160x magnification.
The tiny microscope has a wide range of potential uses, particularly if coupled with the right smartphone apps.