Chipscope showcases lensless microscopy
A lensless, suitcase sized microscope, developed by the EU funded project ChipScope, is set to allow medical doctors to make parasite diagnostic from body fluid samples directly on site.
By offering quick and reproducible results at low costs, the novel digital in-line holographic microscopy (DIHM) in-vitro imaging technology promises to open a vast field of applications for standard users.
DIHM is based on the numerical reconstruction of a digitally recorded hologram.
It allows for the acquisition of both, the amplitude and phase information of a wave front shaped by the microscopic sample.
The advantage of the DIHM lies in the simplicity of its setup: the microscope consists of a LED as an illumination source, appropriate filtering for coherence enhancement and an image sensor.
The comprehensive data processing algorithm transforms the recorded holograms into a microscope image by angular spectrum approach and digital filtering.
In general, the resolution of such a microscope is strongly influenced by the spatial coherence length of the illumination, which can be enhanced via reducing the emitting area, either by cutting a part of the wave front with the pinhole or by use of a point-like nanoLED.
The nanoLED arrays developed within the EU Horizon 2020 program, ChipScope, will allow enhancement of the imaging resolution compatible to the conventional optical microscopy.
Chipscope developer, Andreas Waag from Technische Universität Braunschweig, and colleagues, believe the lensless microscope is an ideal tool for medical diagnosis in remote areas since there is no need for the medical doctor to bring and maintain large, heavy and sensitive analysis devices.
A simple laptop and a suitcase sized lensless microscope assembly is enough to, say, make a parasite diagnostic from body fluid samples.
The robust construction enables a fast, reliable and automated analysis of the specimen by combining not only high-resolution light microscopy but also implementing modern analysis techniques based on the detection of changes in human DNA, identifying viral genomes and immunological characterization in one device.
To provide the highest light sensitivity and optical resolution, the system is equipped with a normal grayscale camera to work in a multi-cell imaging bright field mode.
The novel lensless microscope is also equipped with a microfluidic flow channel system for handling living cells and imaging.