A low cost mobile phone dark-field microscope for nanoparticle-based quantitative studies

Dali Sun, Ye Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Dark-field microscope (DFM) analysis of nanoparticle binding signal is highly useful for a variety of research and biomedical applications, but current applications for nanoparticle quantification rely on expensive DFM systems. The cost, size, limited robustness of these DFMs limits their utility for non-laboratory settings. Most nanoparticle analyses use high-magnification DFM images, which are labor intensive to acquire and subject to operator bias. Low-magnification DFM image capture is faster, but is subject to background from surface artifacts and debris, although image processing can partially compensate for background signal. We thus mated an LED light source, a dark-field condenser and a 20× objective lens with a mobile phone camera to create an inexpensive, portable and robust DFM system suitable for use in non-laboratory conditions. This proof-of-concept mobile DFM device weighs less than 400 g and costs less than $2000, but analysis of images captured with this device reveal similar nanoparticle quantitation results to those acquired with a much larger and more expensive desktop DFMM system. Our results suggest that similar devices may be useful for quantification of stable, nanoparticle-based activity and quantitation assays in resource-limited areas where conventional assay approaches are not practical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-518
Number of pages6
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
StatePublished - Jan 15 2018


  • Dark field microscope
  • ImageJ
  • Immunoassay
  • Mobile phone
  • Nanoparticle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


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