Especially in microscopy one often needs mechanical adapters from one standardized system to another. Always buying those specialized components is not only expensive. The process of designing a custom-part using 3D CAD-software, send it to the workshop and wait for its production, is also very time consuming. The same is true for electronic circuits, where one often needs to have electronics that i.e. synchronize a signal across many different devices.

In recent years, the field of rapid prototyping became more and more in to the focus of research labs. The ability to use 3D printers and OpenSource electronic development kits like the Arduino, gives new tools at hand to design new techniques which are in its creativity just bound by the research’s ideas.

Luckily this idea has not only spread over several research labs, but has created a whole new so called OpenSource community that is interested to build new technologies and share their knowledge in form of blueprints, circuits, software, etc. People are encouraged to optimize someone else’s Software which is the currency in the world of OpenSource.

Modular Optics (UC2)

In the present project, a modular, cost-effective, complexity reduced and nevertheless high-resolution optics and microscopy system. Image acquisition and processing equipment, such as Smartphones in conjunction with 3D printing rapid-prototyping, reduced production costs are considerable.
The modular design allows quick and easy adaptation of the system. to the specific requirements of the end user. In combination with intelligent algorithms, it also becomes interesting for top-level research. The project is aimed at providing high-resolution, low-cost microscopes for the broad range of Public, pedagogical concepts and special scientific tasks in form of a democratization of device development.

The focus is, among other things, on field research of immediate light microscopic diagnostics in the field of e.g. malaria, in the S4 laboratory as a “disposable microscope” or also for use in the pedagogical

The project continues to take care of a concept for the didactic preparation of of the electro-optical modular system. Workshops in schools, universities and extra-curricular educational institutions, such as the lighting workshop, are intended to serve to optical tools both in the area of tips and in the educational sector in the to establish a broad scale. Here it makes use of optical knowledge as well as of physics, including technical understanding in designing, biological Skills in preparing the samples and areas of computer science at the Programming the devices. That’s just for project work in the ongoing shrinking MINT range, excellent suited.

The production costs are considerably reduced, since the modular system can be 3D printer can be manufactured and image acquisition and processing can be carried out by Cost-effective and often already existing optical and electronic systems, such as the famous Raspberry Pi. The high availability of the selected components, together with the simple design of the Hardware modules and the democratization of additive production processes, such as the 3D printing, accelerate a wide spread of the technology also outside of science. As in other open-source projects, the Development of the system of creativity and ideas of the users*. benefit. The aim is to develop algorithms, blueprints and experiment instructions that not only accessible to all, but also to users to actively participate in the development of the to stimulate.

Find further information in our github-repository: 

Cellphone Microscopes

In our group we are experimenting with different 3D printing technologies to build new microscope’s which also benefit from components which are easily available, such as microscope objective lenses taken from broken cellphones ore programmable illumination sources from low-cost LED-projectors. 

Since the introduction of the first smartphone in the year 2006, the power of devices in your pocket is getting stronger ever since. Especially the image quality of the small usually back-illuminated CMOS camera sensors and their objective lenses is getting better and better. The image’s quality is competing with middle-level compact cameras usually equipped with big lenses. Cellphone lenses are diffraction-limited and produced for the masses in a well controlled production process. This makes it very intersting for the use in imaging devices such as microscopes.

Using a cellphone objective in an inverse manner, one can reach a -1:1 magnification, where information in the range of the camera’s pixelsize (ca. 3-4 µm) can be captured.

The field of computational microscopy can push the abilities even further by controlling e.g. the illumination source using LED-arrays or cost effective video projectors. The formfactor of those small devices also allows it to use it in remote areas like incubators, where room is often very limited.



The 3DScope is a single piece, flexure based, 3D printed microscope stage designed for stage scanning applications requiring sub-micron positioning accuracy. A single microscope stage can be printed in roughly 30 hours and due to the relatively small size could also be used in biological incubators for live viewing of cell cultures. A Raspberry Pi is used to control the driving motors of the stage as well as the camera for image capture.

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