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UCLA engineer invents world's smallest, lightest telemedicine microscope
Date:4/22/2010

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. 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, Ozcan said. It can even be used to test water quality in the field following a disaster like a hurricane or earthquake.

Using a couple of inexpensive 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, giving the appearance of a 3-D image by putting lines and edges in stark contrast. The additional parts for conversion to a DIC microscope cost approximately $1 to $2.

A number of design elements lead Ozcan to believe his lensless microscope will be a useful medical tool in resource-limited settings, such as some countries in Africa. Two key requirements for such settings are ease of use and durability. The microscope requires minimal training; because of its large imaging field of view, the sample does not need to be scanned or perfectly aligned in the microscope. And operating the microscope is as simple as filling a chip with a sample and sliding the chip into a slot on the side of the microscope. Because of its large aperture, the lensless microscope is also resistant to problems caused by debris clogging the light source. In addition, there are few moving parts, making the microscope fairly robust.

The lensless microscope is also an example of a type of medicine known as telemedicine. In resource-limited settings, tools that are portable enough to do medical tests in the field are vital. Tools
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Contact: Jennifer Marcus
jmarcus@cnsi.ucla.edu
310-267-4839
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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