The smartphone microscope, which was featured in the research journal Scientific Reports, can be used to view specimens as small as 1/200 of a millimetre.
A statement from ARC said the clip-on technology needed no external power or light source and offered high-powered performance.
The files for the 3D printing of the microscope are being made freely available so anyone could turn their own smartphones into microscopes.
The clip-on had been engineered with internal illumination tunnels that guide light from the camera flash to illuminate the sample from behind, he said. This overcame issues seen with other microscopy-enabled mobile phone devices.
"Almost all other phone-based microscopes use externally powered light sources while there’s a perfectly good flash on the phone itself," Dr Orth explained. "External LEDs and power sources can make these other systems surprisingly complex, bulky and difficult to assemble.
"The beauty of our design is that the microscope is usable after one simple assembly step and requires no additional illumination optics, reducing significantly the cost and complexity of assembly. The clip-on is also able to be 3D printed making the device accessible to anyone with basic 3D printing capabilities."
The microscope has already been tested by Dr Orth and his CNBP colleagues who have successfully visualised samples ranging from cell culture, to zooplankton to live cattle semen in support of livestock fertility testing.
"Our mobile microscope can be used as an inexpensive and portable tool for all types of on-site or remote area monitoring," Dr Orth said.
"Water quality, blood samples, environmental observation, early disease detection and diagnosis – these are all areas where our technology can be easily used to good effect."
Photo: courtesy Australia Research Council