Chinese university students develop advanced lens-free microscope



China's Nanjing University of Science and Technology has unveiled a lens-free digital holography microscope "CyteLive" that can achieve high precision and a large field of view at the same time.

Developed by a team of the university's students, the instrument won the gold prize at the 5th China College Students' "Internet+" Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition last month in east China's Zhejiang Province.

Without a traditional optical lens, the instrument just comprises a light source and a sensor. It is only 0.8 percent the size of a conventional microscope which is usually bulky and large, and can be easily lifted with one hand, said project leader Lu Linpeng, also a doctoral candidate at the university.

By leveraging computational microscopic imaging technologies, students developed algorithms that can reconstruct a high-resolution image based on a series of low-resolution images.

According to Lu, the CyteLive can offer a field of view 200 times greater than that of a conventional microscope, with a single image reaching a whopping 100 megapixels. People can use it to observe 100,000 blood cells simultaneously.

"Because cells are transparent, researchers usually have to stain and label cells with artificial fluorophores before observation, which, however, can damage or even kill cells, reducing the observation time," said Zuo Chao, a professor from the university.

The new microscope can overcome this deficiency, enabling observation to last for several days without using any staining markers on cells, Zuo said.

It has been granted several patents and applied in some Chinese hospitals and medical institutions. The research team said the microscope will enter the market soon.



Editor: Gao Han