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Caltech Shows Off a Lensless, Miniaturized Microscope

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the perfect-for-underwater-philately dept.

Technology 110

DeviceGuru writes "Caltech claims its researchers have 'turned science fiction into reality' with their development of a single-chip microscope. Although it doesn't have any lenses, the device is said to provide magnification comparable to that of sophisticated optical microscopes. The microscope's magnifying capabilities derive from a technology known as microfluidics, which is based on the channeling of fluid flow at incredibly small scales. Applications for the so-called 'optofluidic microscope' are expected to include field analysis of blood samples for malaria, or checking water supplies for giardia and other pathogens. The project's director thinks devices based on it could be implanted directly into the human body, in order to help arrest the spread of cancer." There's also coverage of the microscope at EE Times.

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110 comments

Caltech not Cal Tech (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24406497)

Why can't Slash Dot figure this out?

Re:Caltech not Cal Tech (3, Insightful)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409217)

Calcutta Technical Institute is a fine school.

Argh (3, Informative)

VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406593)

It's "Caltech", not "Cal Tech".

Re:Argh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24406793)

Go see Cal?

Re:Argh (0, Redundant)

pz (113803) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407343)

It's "Caltech", not "Cal Tech".

Yes, exactly. I'm an alumnus. Often when I say, "it's Caltech, not Cal Tech," people look at me funny. By way of explanation, I carry on, "it's a private institution, not part of the UC system." If they continue to have crossed eyes, then, "look, Berkley is Cal Berkley because it's really the University of California at Berkley, Davis is Cal Davis because it's the University of California at Davis, and the same is true for for UCLA, UCSF, UC Irvine, UCSB, etc., but Caltech is the California Institute of Technology, not part of the UC system." By this time, they've either walked away, or have written me off as a total loon, but the point has been made: Caltech, not Cal Tech.

Slashdot editors, please take note.

Re:Argh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24407961)

If you called a UC "Cal Irvine", it'd be frowned upon as well.

Cal is most closely used for the California State Universities (Cal Fullerton, etc). Besides, CalTech is an abbreviation for California Institute of Technology. So the same rules should apply as they do to the UCs or CSUs.

Re:Argh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24408281)

Besides, CalTech is an abbreviation for California Institute of Technology.

No! Jesus, can't you read? It's not Cal Tech, or CalTech, or UC Tech, or MIT. It's Caltech. One word, one capital letter. Why is this difficult?

And if you feel the need to stick to "rules", you can call it CIT. Not that anyone outside of Caltech will know what you're talking about, but if that's secondary to being able to follow unwritten, irrelevant, made-up rules, then by all means.

Re:Argh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24408603)

Who cares? Just wondering.

Re:Argh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24408855)

Last time I was in the parking garage on Holliston, the ticket printed out CalTech ! Double Argh.

Re:Argh (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24408345)

It's "Caltech", not "Cal Tech".

Yes, exactly. I'm an alumnus. Often when I say, "it's Caltech, not Cal Tech," people look at me funny. By way of explanation, I carry on, "it's a private institution, not part of the UC system." If they continue to have crossed eyes, then, "look, Berkley is Cal Berkley because it's really the University of California at Berkley, Davis is Cal Davis because it's the University of California at Davis, and the same is true for for UCLA, UCSF, UC Irvine, UCSB, etc., but Caltech is the California Institute of Technology, not part of the UC system." By this time, they've either walked away, or have written me off as a total loon, but the point has been made: Caltech, not Cal Tech.

Slashdot editors, please take note.

It's Berkeley, not Berkley.

Re:Argh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24408727)

It's Berkeley, not Berkley.

It's Cal.

Re:Argh (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409303)

Berkeley Breathed [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Argh (1)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409943)

It should actually be "The correct spelling of Berkley[sic] is Berkeley."

Your statement was a sentence fragment.

Ok, not really, but I was just continuing (beating) the joke (dead horse).

Re:Argh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24411919)

I find it interesting that while most commonly mispronounced 'BIRK Lee,' the town was founded by and named for Bishop Berkeley... whose name is correctly pronounced 'BARK Lee.'

Re:Argh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24412289)

Also, it's the University of California, Berkeley, without an "at."

Re:Argh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24411561)

I am currently a student at UC Berkeley, and know many people at all the UCs. NO ONE calls any campus "Cal $campus". UC Berkeley is known just as "Cal" (because it was the original University of California); however, no other campus goes by "Cal" or "Cal $campus".

Slashdot poster, please take note.

Re:Argh (0, Redundant)

Sicily1918 (912141) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407695)

I was gonna write the same thing.

Re:Argh (0, Troll)

rdwald (831442) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407985)

Aw, you ruined my "Yet another typographical error from Slash Dot" joke. /also an alum

In other news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24406609)

Ornithopters now the prefered way to travel, as sandworms tend to lead to sunburns, rashes and sand blown hair.

The voice is still being perfected.

Incorrect size comparison (2, Informative)

ckthorp (1255134) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406641)

The coin in the photo is actually a dime, not a quarter as is indicated in the text.

Re:Incorrect size comparison (0)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407101)

No, it's one of the newer US quarters. About 7/8" (22.2mm) in diameter.

=Smidge=

Re:Incorrect size comparison (1)

ckthorp (1255134) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407417)

If this is a joke, than *WOOSH* to me. Otherwise I direct your attention to:
Quarter: 24.26 mm diameter, 1.75 mm thick
Dime: 17.91 mm diameter, 1.35 mm thick.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarter_(United_States_coin) [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dime_(United_States_coin) [wikipedia.org]
Anyway, you can even read the text on the dime in the photo. It clearly says "dime" in addition to olive branch and torch motif of a dime.

Re:Incorrect size comparison (1)

ckthorp (1255134) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407439)

I see the confusion. I only RTFA the first link (which features a dime). The second link, features a quarter.

Re:Incorrect size comparison (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24407615)

No, it's one of the newer US quarters. About 7/8" (22.2mm) in diameter.

=Smidge=

If it one of the new quarters then why does it have "One Dime" written on it? I can foresee great problems with the new coins if this is the case :)

Re:Incorrect size comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24407887)

The new coin system has been implemented for the visually impaired. ;)

Re:Incorrect size comparison (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407997)

It appears we were referring to two different pictures. The first link compares the device to a US dime, the second link compares it to a US quarter. I didn't read the first link because it went to a blog (which are typically useless when more direct sources are available.)

=Smidge=

Re:Incorrect size comparison (1)

jefu (53450) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407297)

Ah, but what is a quarter worth these days. A dime!

One word only ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24406659)

Caltech. DEI to all my friends.

Practical Applications (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406711)

Practical aplication from TFA:

"Yang thinks devices containing the microscope could even be implanted directly into the human body. Such a device, he suggests, could autonomously screen for and isolate rogue cancer cells in blood circulation"

Discuss!

Re:Practical Applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24406863)

WTF?

Why not actually offer an your own opinion or insight or something rather than expecting /. to do your thinking and discussing for you?

If I had any karma left I'd give you -1 Retarded

Re:Practical Applications (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407083)

So you post an equally if not more "-1 Retarded" reply under Anonymous Coward? Oh wow, thank you for enlightening me.

If you want my opinion, the whole statement was not very applicable at all. In order to detect rogue cancer cells, the system would have to be much more complex, making the whole concept behind the idea redundant.

While I think the device is neat and probably useful - detecting cancer cells is not one of them.

Re:Practical Applications (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406907)

They're trying to turn your own body into a police state, you just let them go after the "rogue" cancer cells, but then it will be the normal cancer cells, and then they'll start profiling against any minority cell, and soon enough every cell will be living in fear of their screening chip overlords.

Re:Practical Applications (4, Funny)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407141)

hmm but if they also go after excess fat cells I just might make a deal.

Re:Practical Applications (1)

Emperor Zombie (1082033) | more than 5 years ago | (#24408079)

First they came for the cancer cells,
- but I didn't want cancer so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the fat cells
- but I didn't want to be a fatass, so I did not speak out.
And when they came for the brain cells, there was no... uhhh... durrr...

Re:Practical Applications (2, Funny)

Samah (729132) | more than 5 years ago | (#24412163)

So does this mean that if I jam my finger on a piece of wood I can send one of these microscope things in looking for splinter cells?

Re:Practical Applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24412837)

Think of the stem cells!

Re:Practical Applications (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407443)

So something like the UK then ?

Re:Practical Applications (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407565)

Yes, but not as dark and damp.

Re:Practical Applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24409595)

Hey! It only rained twice here yesterday.

Re:Practical Applications (2, Insightful)

xonar (1069832) | more than 5 years ago | (#24408187)

24/7 drug screening anyone?

Re:Practical Applications (4, Informative)

Compholio (770966) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407037)

Practical aplication from TFA:

"Yang thinks devices containing the microscope could even be implanted directly into the human body. Such a device, he suggests, could autonomously screen for and isolate rogue cancer cells in blood circulation"

Discuss!

Nope, I'm working on a project with these kinds of devices and the throughput of the microfluidic channel is not sufficient to work in your bloodstream (and I doubt they have enough channels in a small enough space). You could take a tiny portion of your blood and run it through the device, but if you're looking for rouge cancer cells to zap then this would not prove effective.

Re:Practical Applications (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407195)

if you're looking for rouge cancer cells to zap then this would not prove effective.

I imagine differentiating between rouge and red would be very difficult.

Re:Practical Applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24407507)

I imagine differentiating between rouge and red would be very difficult.

Not at all... the rouge cells all speak with a distinct French accent!

Re:Practical Applications (2, Insightful)

yog (19073) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407749)

There are lots of applications for a $10 fluid microscope chip.

- Restaurants. You could pour a few drops of your soup, or drink, or meat juice, into your cell phone gadget and it will tell you if there are nasty critters.

- Hospitals. Medical workers can do preliminary blood screenings at admission time--just do a thumb prick, and get a urine sample, and they can discover proteins, various microbes, cell counts (perhaps). This info can go right into the (electronic) chart before the patient has even finished filling out the paperwork.

- Home. Self-diagnosis kits. Test water for microorganisms. Other stuff I can't think of, probably--science kits, for example.

I notice this project is funded by DARPA. Another cool, practical invention from that amazing agency with a tiny budget. Who says you need to throw billions of dollars at a project to get incredible results? If anything, DARPA proves that the opposite is generally true.

Autonomous screening (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407847)

About the autonomous part...

What kind of autonomous pathogen detection systems do we have today?
I am not talking about strip tests [acs.org] .
I am thinking more in a way of pattern recognition system plugged into a digital microscope, combined with a database of say.. known bacteria.

Sounds to me that building something like that should be a logical practical application from the moment we managed to strap a digital camera to a microscope.
With an "on a chip" microscope for 10$, I wonder... Shouldn't someone be working on something like that?
And what is the current state of the "lab on a chip"? [wikipedia.org]

I mean... I AM eagerly awaiting that holodeck as much as the next guy or girl, but medical tricorders MIGHT be a tad more important.

Re:Practical Applications (1)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 5 years ago | (#24408307)

A microscope that can isolate cancer cells - all on its own - no nanotechnology needed?

And if the microscope is implanted in the human body, what are we looking at? Is it going to incorporate some transmitter to communicate with doctors? I don't know, this "autonomous" thing sounds really far fetched to me.

Re:Practical Applications (1)

bane2571 (1024309) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409871)

I'm picturing a horde of these microscopes planted around the inside of my body and a gem in my hand Logan's Run style. *BING* light goes on, you have cancer.

Image splicing (4, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406763)

All of the images are then pieced together to create a surprisingly precise two-dimensional picture of the object.

So how much of this device is really software on a much larger device like a laptop?

Re:Image splicing (1)

SirShmoopie (1333857) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407213)

its very common for development versions of technology like this to rely on off the shelf computers to provide for their processing needs.

Its not cost effective to build special hardware until the thing goes into production.

I recall seeing a prototype mars surface mapping robot chugging around with a normal desktop PC duct taped on top of it. Well, screws held it too, but I'm guessing some mis-hap had led to the extra precaution.

Re:Image splicing (1)

smaddox (928261) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407257)

you could probably create a embedded device to store the raw data, then analyze it later - like back at the lab.

It wouldn't give immediate results, but it would remove the necessity to take lots of samples back to a lab for microscope slide preparation.

Re:Image splicing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24408015)

DUH!!! What the fuck do you think is going to display the image? What a maroon.

all f 8 the smor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24406787)

fhas nfcka IIIk [ahiwk money nu---o--o

Re:all f 8 the smor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24407077)

wat

Re:all f 8 the smor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24407105)

All that effort and no goatse link? You're really losing your touch, Mr. Bang-on-the-Keyboard-Man.

Washington Quarter Noses (3, Funny)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406789)

How many Washington quarter noses will fit in a Library of Congress?

Could they have just used millimeters?

Re:Washington Quarter Noses (0)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406977)

Unlike a Library of Congress the quarter is an instantly relatable and contextual unit of measurement. Its a standard size that most everyone has access to. I'm sure there's specs available somewhere. If I'm reading this article in a newspaper on the bus, the odds are better that I have a quarter in my pocket than a ruler where I have to take it out and see what the number of millimeters really are. (What's 30? 60? Is that better than saying about the size of a quarter? Which one can you figure out first).

Of course, it is American centric, but the article is also in English from an American university published on an American website, so if they published specs along with the picture they could cover all their bases as well.

Re:Washington Quarter Noses (4, Informative)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407065)

You know what's also an instantly relatable unit?
Centimeters!

Oh, and by the way:
I live in Germany you insensitive clod!

Re:Washington Quarter Noses (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407821)

Size is an instantly relatable thing though. "About the size of a house" vs. "about the size of a cat" gives you instant context. You could also give me cubic meters, but would that translate as well? Also, by placing something that's of referenced size (like a quarter!) in a photo, you can assure viewers have a sense of scale no matter if the photo's resolution changes (and thus making rulers with markings not visible, etc). A quarter will be recognizable if the photo is compressed, loses its caption, etc. This is actually more efficient than handing along specs, as far as size estimation goes.

I agree with the critisism of expressing information or "count" (you can stack X number of quarters to the moon and back) in terms of contextual things because the analogy just sucks, but for phsyical references I don't see a problem with it.

Oh and if you want to know how big a quarter is, according to google a a quarter is 0.160792385 Euros. I'll leave the rest to you! :)

Re:Washington Quarter Noses (1)

EchaniDrgn (1039374) | more than 5 years ago | (#24408099)

Actually the coin in the picture is a Dime. :-)

Re:Washington Quarter Noses (2, Interesting)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 5 years ago | (#24408309)

Heh, and it was mislabeled in the caption. Would anyone have caught the error if only the caption specified the size in centimeters, and it was accidentally doubled?

Re:Washington Quarter Noses (2, Funny)

Born2bwire (977760) | more than 5 years ago | (#24408311)

You know what's also an instantly relatable unit?
Centimeters!

Oh, and by the way:
I live in Germany you insensitive clod!

Fine, we could also publish the size in units of Weisswurst.

Re:Washington Quarter Noses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24411167)

Unlike a Library of Congress the quarter is an instantly relatable and contextual unit of measurement. Its a standard size that most everyone has access to. I'm sure there's specs available somewhere.

Can you point me to a specification that details nose length? This one [usmint.gov] blatantly omits the nose. The issue is further complicated by the fact that Washington's nose was longer before 1998: compare the images [wikipedia.org] . So are they referring to a Short Washington's Nose or a Long Washington's Nose?

Re:Washington Quarter Noses (4, Insightful)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407013)

It was not meant to be funny! This is the dumbing down of our society and it sucks!

If you use actual units of measure:
1) Scientifically minded people will know what you're talking about
2) Young inquiring minds will expand their knowledge of a measuring unit
3) People that don't care enough to find out about measuring units won't care about your article either

If you make up some stupid unit:
1) You annoy scientifically minded people
2) Young minds don't learn anything about measuring units
3) They still don't care!

Stopping cancer... (2, Funny)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406817)

I didn't know you'd only need a microscope to stop cancer...

Re:Stopping cancer... (2, Funny)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406967)

Well, it's quantum cancer: Observing it forces it out of its metastable state and destroys it.

Obligatory Military Applications: +1, Helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24406881)

for Larry Craig's covert bathroom visits [youtube.com]

Regards,
Filipino Monkey

Prior Art (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406911)

Mentioned in a short story by Isaac Asimov, 'anopticon' Was featured in the short story "Anniversary" the sequel to "Marooned off Vesta"

This device was a microscope, and a telescope with no lenses.

Re:Prior Art (1)

smaddox (928261) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407355)

we already have radio telescopes without lenses - it is just a sensor matrix. With software you can pick which direction to look in. The problem with scaling it to visible wavelengths is that no material we know of can oscillate at those frequencies. People ARE working on meta-materials to allow negative indexes of refraction, though.

Theoretically a negative indexes of refraction would allow the creation of a flat "lens" with no resulting aberrations. Of course, the "lens" would have to be infinitely large - but, yeah...

Re:Prior Art (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407949)

i had Anopticon and he was sooooo cool until my little brother stepped on him. After that i couldn't transform him back to a microscope. My parents bought me Comicon with HIS allowance, so i guess it all worked out.

Re:Prior Art (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#24410139)

Heh. I'd thought the same thing. Wonder if his estate can claim royalties off any Cal Tech patents, since he gave a "business method" for such a device, which gives the estate a claim of prior art. I'm going to have to re-read all the other Asimov short stories now for other invention ideas.

reminds me of a photogram or contact sheet (1)

markjhood2003 (779923) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406913)

Very clever: no lenses are required since the specimens are in more or less direct contact with the imaging surface. I wonder why the sensors have to be in a linear array though -- couldn't they be expanded to a rectangular array in order to get a conventional image instead of having the specimens sliding across a linear array and generating scan lines?

Re:reminds me of a photogram or contact sheet (1)

geckipede (1261408) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407327)

I was going to guess that the holes in the metal were less than the size of a single CCD pixel element, but a few back of the envelope calculations inform me that they are about the same size.

Maybe more holes ruins the smooth flow of the sample?

Examples? And blatantly wrong about history (5, Informative)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24406965)

Suspicious that they couldn't include an example of the images this thing is capable of taking. If I'm going to be using a microscope, I'm going to want it to be able to, you know, SCOPE.

Also suspicious: the "motivation". FTFA

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 miniaturize

Guh?!? Very little change?

Electron microscope- 1931
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron_microscope [wikipedia.org]

Phase contrast-1930's
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phase_contrast_microscopy [wikipedia.org]

Fluorescence microscopy- I don't know but well after the 16th century
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescence_microscopy [wikipedia.org]

Confocal microscopy- 1957
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confocal_microscopy [wikipedia.org]

2 photon microscopy-1960?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-photon_excitation_microscopy [wikipedia.org]

Total internal reflection fluorescence microscope- also don't know, at least after fluorescence microscopy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_internal_reflection_fluorescence_microscope [wikipedia.org]

Inverted microscope- I don't know, but not too old
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_microscope [wikipedia.org]

And considering the 16th century microscopes had but one lens and no artifical light sources, you won't find anything similar to that in a modern day lab.
http://www.az-microscope.on.ca/history.htm [az-microscope.on.ca]

Re:Examples? And blatantly wrong about history (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407137)

Something that the article left out and I think is an interesting applcication is that it would work well with UV and X-ray sources. It is difficult to make optics that don't block these short wavelengths.

CORRECTION: they did provide examples (3, Informative)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407165)

Well, the first part of my post, upon further inspection, is incorrect. It's poor reporting on the part of "device guru" to not include examples, but the researchers themselves do provide a nice picture of a c.elegans in one of the links. Called that one a bit early.

So... sorry guys at caltech/ cal tech, if you happen to be reading. And guys from "device guru," shame on you (doesn't excuse me though.)

Re:Examples? And blatantly wrong about history (1)

pz (113803) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407549)

And considering the 16th century microscopes had but one lens and no artifical light sources, you won't find anything similar to that in a modern day lab.
http://www.az-microscope.on.ca/history.htm [az-microscope.on.ca]

Except, perhaps, a hand-held magnifying lens!

Your list left off a few important advances ...

SEM vs TEM (you mentioned electron microscope, but they're very different beasts)

Darkfield microscopes.

Atomic force microscopes.

Tomographic microscopes (although I suppose confocals are as good an example of this class as any)

X-ray diffraction microscopes.

Gigapixel microscopes (very new approaches to making high resolution images that span macroscopic dimensions).

Serial electron microscopes.

Near-field optical microscopes.

And probably more that I'm forgetting. There has been amazing progress in instrument building!

Re:Examples? And blatantly wrong about history (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407701)

Well, you know, given all the progress in microscopes I wasn't going to list all the different types that had been invented since Antony van Leeuwenhoek first looked at his sperm (which was obtained "fresh and not sinfully," so Mrs. van Leeuwenhoek deserves some credit there too.)

That said, I can't belive I forgot AFM! A microscope based on touch is a revolution. I did think about SEM vs TEM, but only after I had already posted, and I think the wiki article probably mentioned both.

Gigapixel microscopy I haven't heard of. I'm assuming it's taking multiple pictures though?

Re:Examples? And blatantly wrong about history (1)

pz (113803) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407951)

Gigapixel microscopy I haven't heard of. I'm assuming it's taking multiple pictures though?

That's it. It's a technique that's so new that it doesn't have a fully accepted name yet (I'm just on the fringes of the field, so I might be a few months out of date). The idea was developed for electron microscopy, but could be easily adapted to light microscopy as well: put an automated stage in the beampath so that the sample can be shifted from place to place and a high resolution image captured at each stopping point, and then computationally stitch the tiles together. Sounds relatively straightforward, except that when you want to capture a sample 10 mm across at 10 nm resolution, even the smallest positioning accuracies, field non-linearities, temperature distortions, etc., accumulate. For a simple idea like this, there's a heap of imaging hardware engineering (including hard vacuum stuff) and software engineering to be done. The computational loads for manipulating a one-million-by-one-million pixel image are staggering. Just moving one of these images around on the network is challenging. Think of it this way: a standard digital camera takes an N-megapixel image; these microscopes are constructing images with one thousand times as many pixels.

But the really no way! part of these projects is that the intent is then to progress in the third dimension as well to create high-res 3D images. One such assembled 3D image will take many TB to represent, and the goal is to be able to computationally fly through the sample and follow small structures across large extents.

Would it be... (3, Funny)

ClosedEyesSeeing (1278938) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407007)

a micro-microscope?

Re:Would it be... (3, Funny)

fretburnr (933771) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407273)

Wouldn't that be a picoscope?

Re:Would it be... (1)

ClosedEyesSeeing (1278938) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407485)

And skip nanoscope altogether?

Re:Would it be... (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407713)

micro-micro=pico while nano=micro-mili or mili-micro. And I guess a mega-microscope would be just a scope.

Re:Would it be... (1)

fretburnr (933771) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407871)

10^-6 * 10^-6 = 10^-12, hence pico ;)

It *HAS* a lens! (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407155)

Just because it's not built from glass (which some may argue is also a liquid) does not make it any less of a lens.

It's not lensless, it's a different kind of lens.

Re:It *HAS* a lens! (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407245)

lens means 'bends light'
There is no light bending going on here. You could use x-rays with this new technique without any difficulty.

Re:It *HAS* a lens! (1)

sobachatina (635055) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409069)

Actually lens is from the Latin word for "lentil" - as in the legume.

So it would be more accurate to say that there is nothing here shaped like a lentil.

Re:It *HAS* a lens! (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#24409745)

Don't be a dweeb.

A lens is an optical device with perfect or approximate axial symmetry which transmits and refracts light, converging or diverging the beam.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lens_(optics) [wikipedia.org]

An aperture does not a lens make. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24407253)

An aperture does not a lens make. (Actually, Aperture makes photos better... or portal guns... whatever.)

Where's the pictures? (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407161)

I expected a new microscope to have some pictures to show...

Re:Where's the pictures? (2, Informative)

BitHive (578094) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407185)

A picture is linked to in the summary: http://www.optofluidics.caltech.edu/projects/nanoparticle/index.html [caltech.edu] Thanks for reading before posting though!

Looks like I clicked on the other two links... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407369)

Didn't click on the one with the images.

I expected *any* article about new microsocopes to have a sample but apparently only one out of three feels the necessity.

My bad.

Re:Where's the pictures? (1)

CaptSaltyJack (1275472) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407265)

Sorry, but the new microscope is too small to photograph, even by another microscope. In a few years, we'll have another new microscope that will be able to photograph this current new microscope, which will at that point be obsolete.

Forget Natalie Portman (1)

sherpajohn (113531) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407289)

and hot grits, I want to see her under one of these little beauties! No, I want to see her under a Beowulf cluster of them! Woot!

Of course! (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407445)

He didn't say "an optikon," he said "anopticon!"

Re:Of course! (1)

jejones (115979) | more than 5 years ago | (#24407789)

And me without a bottle of Martian jabra water...

Microscope Design in Public Domain (1)

SloWave (52801) | more than 5 years ago | (#24408695)

Not quite the same as the article but close. Thought about this some time ago. Before some gomer patent troll patents this, here is the general idea in kit form to get it in the public domain.

Take a board video camera and remove the lens assembly to expose the imaging surface on the chip. Assume your specimen is on a standard microscope slide with a cover glass. Turn slide over and place cover glass in contact with imaging surface on CCD chip. Shine light thru the microscope slide and view image on video monitor. Can do this with all sorts of specimen containers, even tiny aquariums containing live pond water samples.

Now here is the really cool part. If you replace the light with an array of LED's and control them with software while capturing the video frames, you can reconstruct 3D images of whatever is on the slide.

Eat that patent trolls!

I totally expected (1)

glyph42 (315631) | more than 5 years ago | (#24410717)

"The project's director thinks devices based on it could be implanted directly into the human body, in order to achieve super zoom vision!"

Beamforming? (1)

slew (2918) | more than 5 years ago | (#24411427)

Seems to me this is just generic beamforming or synthetic aperature.

The idea is that a small object is sent down a micro-fluidic channel which passes over an array of sensors that take a repetitive sequence of "pictures" of it as it slowly moves down the channel (each of the M sensor takes say N pictures). All the "pictures" are later re-assembled as if they were taken at the same time with very small spatial displacement (instead of far apart in space and time). If you know the constant velocity V of the channel and the constant distance between the sensors this isn't too hard to do (just math). This is the basics of the synthetic aperature or beam-formed approach.

The slight twist they came up with is the arrangement of the sensors. Instead of just putting them in a straight line down the direction of motion of the channel, the sensors on the chip in a diagonal across the narrow width of the channel. If you just organized the array in the direction of motion, you only get improved resolution in the direction of motion. With this arrangment, you can get better spatial resolution in the direction orthogonal to the motion as well.

The microfluid channel seems like the technology limiter to me. I imagine for stuff like blood or water (which you can send down a microfluidic channel at an easy to measure constant velocity) it works pretty well, but if something is moving (so that different pictures in time are radically different, not related to the velocity of the fluid in the channel), it would be really, really blurry or have aliasing. Remember those panoramic class picture with the pin-hole aperature so you could shake your head during the shot and blur-out, or if you were fast enough, you could run from one side of the picture and be in two places at once. These are the same problems with any long-time aperature imaging technique.

In any case, if instead it was an imaging technique like one that was described in Michael Crichton's "Prey" book (not his best work, but interesting), now that would be something to write home about...

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