A new study on the chip sized microscope focuses on super resolution viewing;by super resolution microscopes currently in use are basing on bulky optical systems; and require complex preparations of the samples being observing in the study.At the moment; only indirect observation meaning the interpretation of measuring data is possible with complex; expensive and bulky electron microscopes. However, such devices are not suitable for observing delicate living tissues.
This CHIP SCOPE project is developing a chip-sized microscope that uses arrays of light emitting diodes (LEDs); smaller in diameter than a human hair to illuminate the object being observing. The resulting device combines simplicity, ease of operation and affordability.
Chip sized microscope
The new technology could advance research in areas that currently use optical microscopes particularly medicine. It will help researchers in the field without access to laboratories or other scientific infrastructure to use the device to make microscopic images easily. Furthermore, because the technology is cheaper it will be accessible to researchers in developing countries.
These microscopes in a chip could also be integrated into consumer electronic products; in the same way cameras are built into smartphones today. The sample is placing on to the LED’s and underneath a photo detector which captures the signals emitted by the arrays. Contrary to conventional microscopy, spatial resolution is provided by the LED’s rather than by the optical detection system. Hence, this system does not require particular alignments or complex focusing systems.
The LED’s can be switching on and off individually;at high speed, allowing cells to be observing in real time; capturing up to 10 frames per second. The project is developing software to enable the easy control of light pattern; brightness and modulation frequency. Advanced 3D nano device fabrication methods are using to manufacture the LED array.
By studying the development in living tissue of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis; a chronic age relating lung disease; that kills 500 000 people worldwide each year.The resolution achievable with conventional optical microscopes is limiting because of the physical laws governing the wavelength of light.