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Precision motion tracking -- thousands of cells at a time
Date:9/18/2012

Researchers have developed a new way to observe and track large numbers of rapidly moving objects under a microscope, capturing precise motion paths in three dimensions.

Over the course of the study--reported online Sept. 17, 2012, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences--researchers followed an unprecedented 24,000 rapidly moving cells over wide fields of view and through large sample volumes, recording each cell's path for as long as 20 seconds.

"We can very precisely track the motion of small things, more than a thousand of them at the same time, in parallel," says research lead and National Science Foundation CAREER awardee Aydogan Ozcan, an electrical engineering and bioengineering professor at UCLA. "We were able to achieve sub-micron accuracy over a large volume, allowing us to understand, statistically, how thousands of objects move in different ways."

The latest study is an extension of several years of NSF-supported work by Ozcan and his colleagues to develop lens-free, holographic microscopy techniques with applications for field-based detection of blood-borne diseases and other areas of tele-medicine. Those efforts recently resulted in a Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award, among others. Ozcan's research is also supported through an NIH Director's New Innovator Award, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award and an Army Research Office Young Investigator Award from the Department of Defense.

For the recent work, Ozcan and his colleagues--Ting-Wei Su, also of UCLA, and Liang Xue, of both UCLA and Nanjing University of Science and Technology in China--used offset beams of red and blue light to create holographic information that, when processed using sophisticated software, accurately reveal the paths of objects moving under a microscope. The researchers tracked several cohorts of more than 1,500 human male gamete cells over a relative
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Contact: Joshua A. Chamot
jchamot@nsf.gov
703-292-7730
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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