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£1m GCRF grant awarded for open source, 3D-printed microscopes

last modified Aug 22, 2017 10:30 AM
Dr Richard Bowman, SynBio Fund grantee and now a 50th Anniversary Research Fellow at the University Bath, is collaborating with colleagues in Cambridge and at STICLab in Tanzania to develop 3D-printed open hardware for science. The group have just been awarded a £1m grant to drive forward their work.

The group are developing a cheaper, open-source microscope which can be used for research, education, diagnostics and water contamination testing (you can read more about the microscope in Dr Bowman's SynBio Fund pages here). This new three year project, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund, will test and refine general purpose optical microscope using mass produced lenses, Raspberry Pis and 3D-printed parts.

Dr Bowman emphasised the importance of open technologies - a key focus of SynBio SRI activities - in an interview with University of Bath: “I think we’re quite used to the idea of open source software, but not necessarily open source hardware. With consumer electronics being so cheap nowadays we can actually get a surprisingly long way and make a high-quality instrument for serious microscopy.

“By releasing the designs as free, open-source products we want to enable local entrepreneurs to produce the medical and scientific equipment that will improve healthcare, education, and research in some of the poorest areas in the world.”

Dr Bowman is currently looking for a Postdoctoral Research Associate to work on the project for 2.5 years. More information can be found here.  


The Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative provides a hub for anyone interested in Synthetic Biology at the University of Cambridge, as well as commercial partners and external collaborators.