A Microscope That Needs No Lenses

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

In reflection mode, the holographic microscope can create images of dense, opaque materials, such as water filters. (a-b) Laser light from a laser diode (“LD” in the diagrams) is projected through a pin hole (“PH”) and then split into two beams by a beam cube (labeled “BC”). One beam of light hits the sample; the other does not. The beams are then reunited to form an interference pattern, which is recorded on a CMOS image sensor. (c) This photograph shows the microscope in reflection mode, with its cover removed. (The inset shows what the microscope looks like with its cover on.) The device weighs about 200 grams and is 15 cm long, 5.5 cm high, and 5 cm wide. Credit: Ozcan BioPhotonics Group at UCLA/Biomedical Optics Express.

“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.”

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