Portable, Lensless Telemedicine Microscope

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The microscope builds on imaging technology known as LUCAS (Lensless Ultra-wide-field Cell Monitoring Array platform based on Shadow imaging). 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. The technology can be used to image blood samples or other fluids, even in Third World countries.

The lensless microscope, in addition to being more compact and lightweight than conventional microscopes, also obviates the need for a trained technicians to analyze the images produced ― images are analyzed by computer so that results are available instantaneously.

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. Samples are loaded using a small chip that can be filled with saliva or a blood smear for health monitoring. With blood smears, the lensless microscope is capable of accurately identifying cells and particles, including red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Using a couple of add-on parts, the lensless microscope can also be converted into a differential interference contrast (DIC) microscope, also known as a Nomarski microscope. DIC microscopes are used to gain information on the density of a sample. The device could also be digitally integrated as part of a telemedicine network that connects various mobile health-care providers to a central lab or hospital, filling gaps in physical infrastructure with mobile tools.

The technology has the potential to help monitor diseases like malaria, HIV and tuberculosis in areas where there are great distances between people in need of health care and the facilities capable of providing it, inventor Aydogan Ozcan said. It can even be used to test water quality in the field following a disaster like a hurricane or earthquake.

COMPAMED.de; Source: University of California - Los Angeles