To serve remote areas of the world, doctors, nurses and field workers need equipment that is portable, versatile, and relatively inexpensive. Now researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) have built a compact, light-weight, dual-mode microscope that uses holograms instead of lenses. The team describes the new device in a paper published today in the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express.
Their prototype weighs about as much as a medium-sized banana and fits in the palm of a hand. And, since it relies in part on mass-produced consumer electronics, all the materials to make it add up to between $50 and $100 USD.It also has a two-in-one feature: a transmission mode that can be used to probe relatively large volumes of blood or water, and a reflection mode that can image denser, opaque samples. The spatial resolution for both modes is less than two micrometers—comparable to that achieved by bulkier microscopes with low- to medium-power lenses.
With just a small amount of training, doctors could use devices like these to improve health care in remote areas of the world with little access to diagnostic equipment, Ozcan says. The handheld microscope could help ensure water quality, test patients' blood for harmful bacteria, and even be used for semen-quality monitoring on animal farms.
It could also prove useful in health crises such as the recent outbreak of E. coli in Europe.
"It's a very challenging task to detect E. coli in low concentrations in water and food," Ozcan says. "This microscope could be part of a solution for field investigation of water, or food, or maybe pathogens in blood."
Part of the device's success is the weight it shed when researchers got rid of the bulkier, heavier, more expensive pieces that most microscopes rely on for collecting and focusing light: the lenses. Instead of lenses, this microscope uses holograms.
Holograms are formed when light bouncing off (or passing through) a three-dimensional object is made to interfere with a "reference beam," or light that has not hit the object. Consider this analogy: drop a stone into a still pond and the ripples will move outward in a circle. Drop two stones and the circular ripples will interfere with each other, making a new pattern of crests and troughs. A person (or computer) analyzing the interference pattern created by those two stones could trace the source back to the stones and recreate what had happened to make the waves.The UCLA team's device uses a similar principle to recreate images from interfering light waves.
Software then analyzes that pattern and recreates the path taken by the light that passed through or bounced off of the objects being imaged.
Each component of the device is fairly inexpensive, Ozcan says. The laser light could come from a $5 laser pointer. The sensor chip that collects that light is the same as the ones in the backs of iPhones and Blackberrys and costs less than $15 per chip. And the whole image-collecting system runs on two AA batteries.
Where the researchers have reduced weight and expense in doing away with lenses, they have added the power of the cloud. The microscope captures raw data; but a computer is required to reconstruct the images. Workers in the field could use their laptops to process the information or send it over the Internet or mobile phone networks to a remote server. Mobile phones could also have sufficient processing power to do the analysis on the spot.
Essentially, Ozcan says, "we are replacing an expensive and bulky, heavy component with computer codes."
The next steps for Ozcan's team include commercializing the device. Ozcan says he has founded a company that is developing this technology, trying to make a version of the microscopes that can be manufactured and sold to healthcare workers and hobbyists.
"Global health is a big field that requires better diagnostic tools, because resource-poor countries don't have the infrastructure for conducting essentially accurate diagnostic tests," Ozcan says. "There are so many problems that innovative solutions [like this microscope] would impact."
Paper: "Field-portable reflection and transmission microscopy based on lensless holography," M. Lee, O. Yaglidere, A. Ozcan, Biomedical Optics Express, Volume 2, Issue 9, p. 2721-2730. http://www.opticsinfobase.org/boe/abstract.cfm?uri=boe-2-9-2721
EDITOR'S NOTE: For images or interviews with authors, please contact Angela Stark, firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.416.1443.
About Biomedical Optics Express
Biomedical Optics Express is OSA's principal outlet for serving the biomedical optics community with rapid, open-access, peer-reviewed papers related to optics, photonics and imaging in the life sciences. The journal scope encompasses theoretical modeling and simulations, technology development, and biomedical studies and clinical applications. It is published by the Optical Society and edited by Joseph A. Izatt of Duke University. Biomedical Optics Express is an open-access journal and is available at no cost to readers online at http://www.OpticsInfoBase.org/BOE.
Uniting more than 106,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit www.osa.org.
Angela Stark | EurekAlert!
Astrophysicists measure precise rotation pattern of sun-like stars for the first time
21.09.2018 | NYU Abu Dhabi
Halfway mark for NOEMA, the super-telescope under construction
20.09.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.
This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.
Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...
Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.
"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...
A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.
Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...
Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.
An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...
21.09.2018 | Event News
03.09.2018 | Event News
27.08.2018 | Event News
21.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
21.09.2018 | Life Sciences
21.09.2018 | Event News