LENSLESS MICROSCOPE

A webcam’s image chip is an ultrafine shadow-imaging stage.

By Tom Zimmerman

image

Photography by Sam Murphy (this page, A, B) and Tom Zimmerman (C, D, I)

Imager chip from a 5MP camera mounted in a black box captures microscopic shadows of rotifer plankton.

Behind the lens of a webcam is an imager chip with thousands of tiny light sensors, each about 1/10 the diameter of a human hair. If you replace the lens with an LED light source, and place tiny objects on the imager chip, shadows will project onto the sensor, creating a lensless microscopic image. You can use the webcam’s regular software to save pictures and video, or stream ...

Get Make: Technology on Your Time Volume 14 now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.