Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering (IOF; Jena, Germany) have created a very small, handheld microscope that can capture high-quality images in less than 1 s. To obtain images of a relatively broad area, doctors or researchers typically use a microscope that scans the area in a grid pattern, recording many images one point at a time, then merging the images to form one complete picture.
The microscope’s imaging system consists of three glass plates, stacked on top of each other. Each plate is covered with a matrix of microlenses on both top and bottom surfaces. Each lens lines up both with its counterpart on the other side of its plate, and with the other lenses that occupy the same location on the other plates. Microscopic details are imaged through a stack of six lenses, along with two achromatic lenses. The images produced are digitally joined together, side-to-side and top-to-bottom, to image an area of 36 × 24 mm2.