New Lens-Free Holographic Microscope Is Portable, Cheap, and Highly Effective

UCLA researchers have developed a lens-free, holographic microscope that can be used to detect the presence of cancer or other cell-level abnormalities with the same accuracy as larger and more expensive optical microscopes. The invention could lead to less expensive and more portable technology for performing common examinations of tissue, blood and other biomedical specimens. It may prove especially useful in remote areas and in cases where large numbers of samples need to be examined quickly. The microscope is the latest in a series of computational imaging and diagnostic devices developed in the laboratory of Dr. Aydogan Ozcan, the Chancellor’s Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Professor. Dr. Ozcan’s laboratory has previously developed custom-designed smartphone attachments and apps that enable quick analysis of food samples for allergens, water samples for heavy metals and bacteria, cell counts in blood samples, and the use of Google Glass to process the results of medical diagnostic tests. The latest invention is the first lens-free microscope that can be used for high-throughput 3-D tissue imaging—an important need in the study of disease. “This is a milestone in the work we’ve been doing,” said Dr. Ozcan, who is also the Associate Director of UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute. “This is the first time tissue samples have been imaged in 3D using a lens-free on-chip microscope.” The magnitude of this advance is indicated by the fact that this report from UCLA is featured as the cover article of the December 17, 2014 issue of Science Translational Medicine, which is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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