Glowscopes

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'Glowscopes' combine your smartphone with a few inexpensive components, thereby converting it into a basic fluorescence 'microscope'.

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We acknowledge and thank Bob Goldstein and his lab (University of North Carolina) for designing and perfecting the non-fluorescent DIY microscope, as well as for bringing DIY microscopes into many schools and the scientific community.

We made some minor modifications and added a few pieces to give it fluorescence capability.

Glowscopes do not use scientific components. Instead, they repurpose hunting/fishing flashlights, theater stage-lighting filters, and smartphone camera clip-on lenses used for amateur photography.

They are great for some purposes but have limitations. Clip-on macro lenses we used may achieve up to 10 µm resolution. Fluorescence sensitivity and signal:noise ratio may work great for some applications (ex: bright zebrafish reporter lines). They will certainly be inadequate for some applications.

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Our configuration and components (above) can be modified! By swapping out lenses, lights, and filters, you might make the glowscope even better, or perfect it for your specific application. Our LED/filter combination works well with GFP and red fluorophores such as DsRed and TdTomato. The images above show that it can work with mCherry and further red-shifted FPs such as mRFP, but it is less robust because the 530 nm LED does not hit their excitation peak as well as it does for DsRed and TdTomato FPs.

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Glowscope (transmitted light)

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Glowscope (GFP viewing)

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Glowscope (RFP viewing)

Our configuration and components (above) can be modified! By swapping out lenses, lights, and filters, you might make the glowscope even better, or perfect it for your specific application. Our LED/filter combination works well with GFP and red fluorophores such as DsRed and TdTomato. The images above show that it can work with mCherry and further red-shifted FPs such as mRFP, but it is less robust because the 530 nm LED does not hit their excitation peak as well as it does for DsRed and TdTomato FPs.

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Glowscopes may be useful for some research applications, but we expect their primary use will be for STEM education and outreach. For example, transgenic reporter traits are dominant and follow Mendelian inheritance ratios. They could make learning genetics more interesting for young kids as they count the number of glowing and non-glowing animals. Possibilities are endless. See manuscript and next generation science standards documents below.

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For more information on glowscopes

2. Build and assembly instructions (updated June 2022)

3. Parts and supplier list (updated June 2022)

5. Videos from glowscope testing (YouTube Channel)

 

email:  jhhines (at) winona.edu

 

 

Please feel free to write with questions

 

Jake Hines, PhD

Winona State University

Biology Department

175 W. Mark St.

Winona, MN 55987

 

DM on Twitter @jhhines2

Please note that we do not sell glowscopes, nor is it our intention for us or others to do so.  The mission is to get these into the hands of as many STEM students (and labs, if useful) as possible. Our instructions (see below) are intended to make this an easy self-build and assembly. It is not essential that you use the scope base/frame we describe, although it helped us hold components in place and at the desired focal distance from the lenses. Additional advice on the DIY microscope frames, building, and sources may be found elsewhere such as the Goldstein lab site here