WESTWOOD—Researchers from UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute have devised a technique to image and measure the size of DNA molecules using an ordinary smartphone.

The technique utilizes the phone’s camera in the measurement of DNA strands. The smartphone is connected by an app to a three-dimensional optical device called a mobile microscopy unit, allowing the molecules to be stretched and measured on chips that fit the phone.

The cost-friendly technique can be used to streamline the measurement of genetic material, facilitating the detection of cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the resistance of infectious pathogens to medication.