Lensless, Inexpensive Microscopy

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Today there are more than 4 billion cell-phone users in the world, and the majority of these cellphones are being used in the developing parts of the world. This massive volume of wireless phone communication brings an enormous cost-reduction to cellphones despite their sophisticated hardware and software capabilities. Quite importantly, most of these existing cellphones are also already equipped with advanced digital imaging and sensing platforms that can be utilized for various health monitoring applications. This impressive advancement is one of the central building blocks of the emerging fields of “Telemedicine” and “Wireless Health”. The success of these fields will surely increase the quality of health care and reduce the insurance costs in developed countries like the United States, however, their most important and immediate impact will be to provide breakthrough technological solutions to various Global Health Problems including infectious diseases such as HIV, TB or malaria. Specifically, utilizing this advanced state of the art of the cell phone technology towards point-of-care diagnostics and/or microscopic imaging applications can offer numerous opportunities to improve health care especially in the developing world where medical facilities and infrastructure are extremely limited or even do not exist.
Centered on this vision, in this talk I will introduce fundamentally new imaging and detection architectures that can compensate in the digital domain for the lack of complexity of optical components by use of novel theories and numerical algorithms to address the immediate needs and requirements of Telemedicine for Global Health Problems. Specifically, I will present an on-chip cytometry and microscopy platform that utilizes cost-effective and compact components to enable digital recognition and 3D microscopic imaging of cells with sub-cellular resolution over a large field of view without the need for any lenses, bulky optical components or coherent sources such as lasers. This incoherent holographic imaging and diagnostic modality has orders of magnitude improved light collection efficiency and is robust to misalignments which eliminates potential imaging artifacts or the need for realignment, making it highly suitable for field use. Applications of this lensfree on-chip microscopy platform to high-throughput imaging and automated counting of whole blood cells, monitoring of HIV+ patients (through CD4 and CD8 T cell counting) and detection of waterborne parasites towards rapid screening of water quality will also be demonstrated. Further, I will discuss lensfree implementations of various other computational imaging modalities on the same platform such as pixel super-resolution imaging, lensfree on-chip tomography, holographic opto-fluidic microscopy/tomography. Finally, I will demonstrate lensfree on-chip imaging of fluorescently labeled cells over an ultra wide field of view of >8 cm2, which could be especially important for rare cell analysis (e.g., detection of circulating tumor cells), as well as for high-throughput screening of DNA/protein micro-arrays.

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