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Medicine Science Technology

Portable Microscope Uses Holograms Instead of Lens 64

Posted by samzenpus
from the discount-medical-supply dept.
Zothecula writes "While financial contributions are certainly a great help to health care practitioners in developing nations, one of the things that they really need is rugged, portable, low-cost medical equipment that is compatible with an often-limited local infrastructure. Several such devices are currently under development, such as a battery-powered surgical lamp, a salad-spinner-based centrifuge, and a baby-warmer that utilizes wax. UCLA is now working on another appropriate technology in the form of a small, inexpensive microscope that uses holograms instead of lenses to image what can't be seen by the human eye."
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Portable Microscope Uses Holograms Instead of Lens

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  • Infrastructure (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fnord666 (889225) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @10:11PM (#37282164) Journal

    Although the microscope itself collects raw data, an external laptop, smartphone, or cloud-based system performs all the processing.

    The spatial resolution ... is reportedly similar to that offered by low- to medium-power lenses.

    At this point don't you have more in infrastructure needs than you would with a basic optical microscope?

    • At this point don't you have more in infrastructure needs than you would with a basic optical microscope?

      No, they'll hook it up to a smartphone. They're everywhere.

      Really, I just don't see the point to this. Used optical microscopes are dirt cheap, certainly less than $50, are easy to maintain, don't require computers, don't have lasers and probably a number of things I'm not thinking of. The big cost in a rural facility isn't going to be basic infrastructure, it's going to be expendables - medications, bandages, sterile supplies.

      Color me confused and a bit cynical about 'saving the world' through high tec

      • by Graymalkin (13732)

        The problem with a second hand optical telescope in this situation is in order to use it effectively you need infrastructure to process your samples. Even if those facilities exist somewhere in-country they may not be local. If a sample needs to be preserved, transported, prepared, imaged, and then finally examined by a doctor it may not do any good since the process has taken days or weeks.

        A microscope that doesn't need to have samples prepared and can potentially image something in situ is a big win. It's

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Really, I just don't see the point to this. Used optical microscopes are dirt cheap, certainly less than $50, are easy to maintain, don't require computers, don't have lasers and probably a number of things I'm not thinking of.

        The strange thing about digital information is that you can transmit it to other places for other people to look at. Can't do that with an optical microscope, used or otherwise.

        I bet these are easier to use, too. Optical microscopes are very fiddly (I don't mean looking down the tube, I mean setting them up, getting the best lighting, etc).

      • ..that's a general tendency, it goes far beyond slashdot. There's more than one thing wrong with it. It reminds me of this -valuable- article claiming that our longterm energy needs will necessarily have to be met by relatively lowtech, non-exotic solutions: mirrors and heatengines:

        http://www.phoenixprojectfoundation.us/uploads/IEEE_Solar_Hydrogen_Paper.pdf [phoenixpro...ndation.us]

        • We have approximately 200,000 years of experience on using hight tech to "save the world". It seems to work quite well on most tasks.

          Of course once in a while it fails.

          • by tinkerton (199273)

            That's the kind of opinion I'm talking about yes. This is not about the value of technology, but about a distorted sense of value where cutting edge technology becomes a value in itself, where hightech trumps other solutions while the other solutions are more sensible.

    • Re:Infrastructure (Score:5, Informative)

      by johnstrass1 (2451730) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @10:26PM (#37282214)
      I am a physician and I work in africa sometimes. The real treat here is potentially using optics (confocal or OCT) to produce better contrast in a small package. Processing tissue for light microscopy requires a big lab; this device uses reflectance data, not transmission, making it ideal for a hunk of flesh
      • Can you please explain why? Is it that the microscopes we know and love from HS biology are not capable of operating on reflected light?

      • Is this really that big of an advantage in the field? I am not a physician, but most of the life science work I've done on patient samples involving a microscope uses very established methods and procedures that pretty much take for granted you're using a transmission microscope. Things like serological analysis, for example. You may ultimately have the better point. However, one would at least venture a reasonable guess that to fully utilize an equipment of this nature, a significant amount of retraini
      • by tgd (2822)

        I am a physician and I work in africa sometimes. The real treat here is potentially using optics (confocal or OCT) to produce better contrast in a small package. Processing tissue for light microscopy requires a big lab; this device uses reflectance data, not transmission, making it ideal for a hunk of flesh

        WTF, this website is not about people with actual experience in the subject matter.

      • by john83 (923470)
        I'm an academic working in optics. This is holographic, not OCT. The difference is small - mainly the coherence length of the laser, but essentially the holographic microscope has slightly better resolution at the cost of much worse rejection of out of focus light. So this device is probably better for examining a biopsy or some water for contamination or something rather than looking at a hunk of tissue, which is where OCT shines. The holographic approach is better in one other way - it grabs an image in o
    • Although the microscope itself collects raw data, an external laptop, smartphone, or cloud-based system performs all the processing.

      The spatial resolution ... is reportedly similar to that offered by low- to medium-power lenses.

      At this point don't you have more in infrastructure needs than you would with a basic optical microscope?

      No, you're ignoring the most important 'infrastructure need' of having an actual physician view and interpret the images. This system allows people with no medical training to collect image data and transmit it to a remote physician for diagnosis.For people in areas that are too poor/remote/sparsely populated, this may be the only possible way they can access medical diagnostic facilities.
      On top of that, with the ever decling cost of electronic components like diode lasers and ccds, this thing has the poten

  • That's a cool bit of tech, but I'd rather have a microscope that works off ambient light and doesn't need a smartphone/laptop/whatever to process the data. And the real thing isn't that much more expensive, at least on the used market.
  • everything you described in the summary has already been done. fucking look it up and save a ton in researching the no shit

    really? a battery operated surgical lamp, how would that ever be done (high amp battery meet bulb) and no shit when you spin things it acts as a centrifuge. Wax wow it can be melted to a liquid and retains heat for a while never fucking noticed that before

    tell me when we invent researchers who are not too lazy to go dumpster diving in a library once in a while please.

    • There is a huge difference between a basic concept and a working piece of equipment, especially when you start talking about medical things. I think your major problem is that you're confusing research science with engineering, and dismissing how hard engineering can be. Any how, let's run down the list, shall we?

      1. Battery powered surgical lights: Surgical lights aren't just a light bulb in a stand, by necessity, stupefyingly bright, moreover, they're focusable, and here's something you probably have ne
      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        1) not fucking really we functioned with sunlight and mirrors, I see no mention of the exact specifications you bring, and with high powered LED arrays its not a magic trick to power blinding bright light via battery, and noone ever defined battery, you think a 400 amp car battery can fire up a led matrix?

        2) Its not that hard we live in 2011 we figured out digital RPM control 2 generations ago, a child with an arduino and a proper motor could do it

        3) probably with the same computers that control the tempera

        • So, let me go ahead and guess that you live in a first world country somewhere.

          You probably lose power what...Once a year? Maybe twice? Every building in a city has running water, right? Oh, and that water is safe, don't have to boil it before you can drink it, let alone use it in a medical situation.

          Guess what, there's a big old world out there, most of it can't say that.

          I live in a really highly developed area of a third world country. Our power is quite reliable, it's usually not out for more tha
  • Asimov called it!

  • In TFA I haven't seen any actual picture (photo of magnified sample) made by this microscope.

    Did I missed something ?

    /. crowd usually says "picts or it didn't happen!"

    • Sorry, you're confusing your online troll communities, that would be /b/ that says "Pics or it didn't happen.".

      Don't worry, it's a common rookie mistake
  • Cool technology, but there is a simpler solution which doesn't require lenses, holograms, laser beam splitters, computers or CCDs. A transmission laser microscope. [teravolt.org] The example on the teravolt web page shows the sample in a water drop which acts as both the sample holder and lens. It is also possible to remove the converging lens from the laser diode so that it becomes a simple point source microscope (think pinhole camera, in reverse). The light source in a typical laser is comparable to the size of a b

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