Engineering: Cellphone Microscope

Posted on November 8, 2009  Comments (4)

UCLA Professor Aydogan Ozcan‘s invention (LUCAS) enables rapid counting and imaging of cells without using any lenses even within a working cell phone device. He placed cells directly on the imaging sensor of a cell phone. The imaging sensor captures a holographic image of the cells containing more information than a conventional microscope. The CelloPhone received a Wireless Innovations Award from Vodafone

a wireless health monitoring technology that runs on a regular cell-phone would significantly impact the global fight against infectious diseases in resource poor settings such as in Africa, parts of India, South-East Asia and South America.

The CelloPhone Project aims to develop a transformative solution to these global challenges by providing a revolutionary optical imaging platform that will be used to specifically analyze bodily fluids within a regular cell phone. Through wide-spread use of this innovative technology, the health care services in the developing countries will significantly be improved making a real impact in the life quality and life expectancy of millions.

For most bio-medical imaging applications, directly seeing the structure of the object is of paramount importance. This conventional way of thinking has been the driving motivation for the last few decades to build better microscopes with more powerful lenses or other advanced imaging apparatus. However, for imaging and monitoring of discrete particles such as cells or bacteria, there is a much better way of imaging that relies on detection of their shadow signatures. Technically, the shadow of a micro-object can be thought as a hologram that is based on interference of diffracted beams interacting with each cell. Quite contrary to the dark shadows that we are used to seeing in the macro-world (such as our own shadow on the wall), micro-scale shadows (or transmission holograms) contain an extremely rich source of quantified information regarding the spatial features of the micro-object of interest.

By making use of this new way of thinking, unlike conventional lens based imaging approaches, LUCAS does not utilize any lenses, microscope-objectives or other bulk optical components, and it can immediately monitor an ultra-large field of view by detecting the holographic shadow of cells or bacteria of interest on a chip. The holographic diffraction pattern of each cell, when imaged under special conditions, is extremely rich in terms of spatial information related to the state of the cell or bacteria. Through advanced signal processing tools that are running at a central computer station, the unique texture of these cell/bacteria holograms will enable highly specific and accurate medical diagnostics to be performed even in resource poor settings by utilizing the existing wireless networks.

This is another great example of engineers creating technologically appropriate solutions.

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4 Responses to “Engineering: Cellphone Microscope”

  1. Patrick Oden
    November 9th, 2009 @ 7:44 am

    That is seriously cool. Just think of how portable such a device could eventually be? And much less prone to damage as a mobile technology than most anything containing lenses. What a brilliant idea.

  2. Anonymous
    November 9th, 2009 @ 11:18 am

    It’s really a shame that this kind of technology never gets promoted the way it can help others and always goes into some sort of warfare technology. Maybe with a little more research something good will come out of this cellphone cell pattern recognition.

  3. Appropriate Technology Health Care Solution Could Save 72,000 Lives a Year » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    June 3rd, 2013 @ 4:59 am

    too little concern is shown for solutions that help people (with so much focus only on solutions that will make organizations rich)…

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    July 17th, 2014 @ 11:31 pm

    The researchers see this technology as an opportunity to increase access to eye-care services as well as to improve the ability to advise on patient care remotely…

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