A prototype microscope from UCLA uses holograms instead of lenses to analyze samples -- all in a lightweight and affordable package.

A team from UCLA, led by Dr. Aydogan Ozcan, has developed a prototype transmission microscope that uses lensless holography to create a magnified image. The lightweight system, which costs about $50 to $100 to create, employs holograms that shine interfering rays onto a small sample. A sensor chip detects the light ray patterns, which are then analyzed by a computer program and used to reconstruct a magnified image of the sample.

As published in the September issue of Biomedical Optics Express, the UCLA project aims to make sample analysis quicker and more readily available for medical researchers in remote locations, where bulky lab equipment can become a hindrance. The device can also transmit microscope images for remote viewing from a computer or mobile phone. Once the prototype has been finalized, the UCLA team hopes that this microscope will have a valuable impact in the analysis of water, food, and even blood for pathogens.

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