Updated on February 6, 2024


Created on June 14, 2016

UC Berkeley CellScope

Upcoming Update

CellScope is a portable digital microscope that assists in the remote diagnosis of blood-borne communicable diseases.

Tested By
  • Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute
Content Partners


Product Description

CellScope combines optical microscopy and cellular communication to offer cell-phone microscopy. This portable digital microscope may assist in the remote diagnosis of blood-borne communicable diseases, specifically tuberculosis, malaria, and sickle cell disease.

Target SDGs

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Target Users (Target Impact Group)

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Public Sector Agencies, NGOs

Distributors / Implementing Organizations

Not yet available as the product is still under development for its applications to global health and disease diagnostics. The technology is being commercialized through CellScope, Inc., a for-profit spinout that was founded in 2010. CellScope, Inc.'s first product is an iPhone otoscope that builds upon CellScope's technology and enables parents and physicians to remotely diagnose ear infections in children, which is now commercially available.

Competitive Landscape

Direct competitors include CellScope Oto and Foldscope.

Manufacturing/Building Method

Information not available, as the CellScope technology for global health applications is still under research and development and not yet commercially available.

Intellectural Property Type


User Provision Model

The product is not yet commercially available.

Distributions to Date Status

None, as CellScope and its applications to disease diagnostics are still under research and development.

Illumination source

Ambient light (without a condenser), white light-emitting diode (LED) for illumination in darker conditions, color LED for fluorescence imaging

Magnification level


Spatial Resolution

1.2 micrometers

Diagnostic Applications

Tuberculosis, malaria, and sickle cell disease

Power supply type

Recharging only (smart phone powers device)


Microscope slides

Indispensable equipment for function (Y/N)


Maintenance or calibration required by user at time of use? (Y/N)


Design Specifications

The CellScope is comprised of a mobile phone outfitted with standard microscopy optics parts (e.g. an eyepiece, tube, lenses, and light source). The functional prototypes consisted of the Nokia N73 camera phones, equipped with a 3.2 megapixel (2048×1536 pixel) CMOS camera with a 5.6×4.2 mm sensor, yielding an ?2.7 µm pixel spacing. Similar off-the-shelf mobile phones with sufficient camera systems can be leveraged. The phone and optical components were mounted using an optical rail system, and laid out as in Figure 1a shown in the product schematics. A functional, handheld prototype is shown in Figure 1b. The CellScope apparatus can be used for bright-field and fluorescence imaging (with additional filters and LED) of medical samples, followed by capture, analysis, and transmission of images for diagnosis. Ambient light (without a condenser) is typically sufficient for brightfield imaging, a white LED can be used for illumination in darker conditions. For fluorescence microscopy, set-up requires trans-illumination geometry incorporating an LED excitation source and filters in the optical train (see Figure 1a in the product schematics). Brightfield images can be captured using the phone's default camera settings, with the flash disabled. Fluorescent images can be captured in the cameras “Night” mode, with the flash disabled. Spatial Resolution: 1.2 micrometers Magnification of 5x–60x.

Product Schematics

Technical Support

None available, as product still not commercially available. Main technical support and development conducted through Fletcher Lab at UC Berkeley and its collaborators.

Replacement Components

None, as product is still not commercially available.



Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters

Capabilities such as: bright-field and fluorescent visualization of medical samples, followed by capture, analysis, and transmission of images critical for diagnosis. Resolution high enough to diagnose malaria from blood samples and tuberculosis from sputum samples.

Vetted Performance Status

Product is still under testing and evaluation. However, studies such as the one discussed in this article, a research paper titled Accuracy of Mobile Phone and Handheld Light Microscopy for the Diagnosis of Schistosomiasis and Intestinal Protozoa Infections in Côte d'Ivoire, are evaluating the performance and effectiveness of the CellScope technology.


Users must take appropriate precautions when using electrical devices.

Complementary Technical Systems

3D printers for physical product.

Academic Research and References

Kamgno, J., Pion, S., Chesnais, C., Bakalar, M., et al., 2017, A Test-and-Not-Treat Strategy for Onchocerciasis in Loa loa–Endemic Areas. N Engl J Med, Vol. 377, pp.2044-2052

Coulibaly, J., Ouattora, M., D’Ambrosio, M., et al., 2016, Accuracy of Mobile Phone and Handheld Light Microscopy for the Diagnosis of Schistosomiasis and Intestinal Protozoa Infections in Côte d’Ivoire. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, Vol. 10

Chaisson, L., Reber, H., Phan, N., Switz, L., Nilsson, F., 2015, Evaluation of mobile digital light-emitting diode fluorescence microscopy in Hanoi, Viet Nam. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis, Vol.19, pp.1068-1072



Straus, Tamara. “A Device That Could Change Healthcare.” Blum Center, 2014.


Editors, Medgadget. “CellScope, a ‘Mobile Phone Based Clinical Microscopy for Global Health Applications’.” Medgadget, 2009.


Akst, jef. “Mobile Microscopes.” The Scientist Magazine®, 2013.


UHN_News. “Mobile, Phone-Based Microscopes Work Well in the Field with Minimal Training.” EurekAlert!, 2016.

Compliance with regulations

Product still under research and development, not available.

Evaluation methods

Clinical and field studies, along with further research and development in academic labs.

Other Information


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