"Microscope on a chip" could lead to mobile magnification

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Scientists from the Californian Institute of Technology have developed a high resolution microscope which is small enough to fit on a fingertip.

It uses “microfluidics” with a grid of CCD sensors — as used in digital cameras — to allow the liquid being analysed to be viewed in high magnification.

The chip needs to be illuminated from above, but sunlight is sufficient, meaning that it could provide a useful mobile solution for medical diagnosis in developing countries, as well as anywhere else.

“Our research is motivated by the fact that microscopes have been around since the 16th century, and yet their basic design has undergone very little change and has proven prohibitively expensive to miniaturise. Our new design operates on a different principle and allows us to do away with lenses and bulky optical elements,” said Changhuei Yang, assistant professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering.

Yang is currently in discussion with biotechnology companies with the view to having the chip mass produced. There’s even the possibility of implanting such chips into the human body. “An implantable microscope analysis system can autonomously screen for and isolate rogue cancer cells in blood circulation, thus, providing important diagnostic information and helping arrest the spread of cancer,” said Yang.

Physorg.com (via Tech Radar)

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Andy Merrett