Apr 232010
 

Smallest Telemedicine Microscope

Making use of novel lensless imaging technology, a UCLA engineer has invented the world’s smallest, lightest telemedicine microscope.

The self-contained device could radically transform global health care – particularly in Third World countries – with its ability to image blood samples or other fluids. It can even be used to test water quality in the field following a disaster like a hurricane or earthquake.

Created by Aydogan Ozcan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and a researcher at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute, the microscope builds on imaging technology known as LUCAS – Lensless Ultra-wide-field Cell Monitoring Array platform based on Shadow imaging – which was also developed by Ozcan.

Instead of using a lens to magnify objects, LUCAS generates holographic images of microparticles or cells by employing a light-emitting diode to illuminate the objects and a digital sensor array to capture their images.

In addition to being more compact and lightweight than conventional microscopes, it also does away with the need for trained technicians to analyze the images produced. Rather, the images are analyzed by computer so that results are available instantaneously.

The icroscope itself also requires minimal training. Because of its large imaging field of view, the sample does not need to be scanned or perfectly aligned in the microscope. And operating the microscope is as simple as filling a chip with a sample and sliding the chip into a slot on the side of the microscope.

Weighing 46 grams ? approximately as much as a large egg ? the microscope is a self-contained imaging device. The only external attachments necessary are a USB connection to a smart-phone, PDA or computer, which supplies the microscope with power and allows images to be uploaded for conversion into results and then sent to a hospital.

Also, because of its large aperture, the lensless microscope is also resistant to problems caused by debris clogging the light source. In addition, there are few moving parts, making the microscope fairly robust.

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