Tiny $10 Microscope

Posted on January 14, 2009  Comments (0)

Tiny $10 Microscope

Researchers at Caltech, who developed the revolutionary imaging system, say that the devices could be mass-produced at a cost of $10 each and incorporated into large arrays, enabling high-throughput imaging in biology labs. The device could also broaden access to imaging technology: incorporated into PDA-size devices, for example, the microscopes could enable rural doctors to carry sophisticated imaging systems in their pockets.

The Caltech device uses a system of tiny fluid channels called microfluidics to direct cells and even microscopic animals over a light-sensing chip. The chip, an off-the-shelf sensor identical to those found in digital cameras, is covered with a thin layer of metal that blocks out most of the pixels. A few hundred tiny apertures punched in the metal along the fluid channel let light in. As the sample flows through the microscope, each aperture captures an image. One version of the microscope uses gravity to control the flow of the sample across the apertures. Another version, which allows for much better control, uses an electrical potential to drive the flow of cells.

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