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Microscopic Marvels: Microscope for the Masses
Publish:admin addtime:2009-11-18 11:31:22

   A researcher at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, has devised a microscope that is small, cheap and mass-producible, and may transform the way microscopy is done. Changhuei Yang, says his microscope, which could cost as little at US$10 each, could have the same revolutionary impact on science that the integrated circuit had on the electronics industry. The microscope uses a "direct projection" technique that eliminates the need for lenses. Instead, he uses sensing chips with a thin layer of metal into which 500-nanometer holes are punched, creating apertures that are smaller than a pixel and are patterned along the path of a microfluidic channel. The chip captures repeated but staggered snapshots of the sample as it floats along. The microscope could boost low-cost science and medicine in developing nations, according to the article, as it is rugged, works with sunlight, and needs no more computational power than what is found in an iPod. Yang is currently working with Ricardo Leitão, a postdoctoral fellow at New York University School of Medicine, and founder of a non-profit group called Tek4Dev (Science & Technology for Sustainable Development), to test the microscope’s ability to diagnose malaria-infected red blood cells. Microscopes are the standard method for detecting the disease, but are often few and far between in malaria-endemic areas. Leitão said “having a diagnostic tool as powerful as Yang’s integrated with our hardware and ’tele’ ability would be of tremendous clinical value."

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