Hack Transforms Common Microscopes into Gigapixel Superscopes

Take an ordinary light microscope, add an LED array and computer and  get 100 times more magnifying power.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have come up with an inexpensive way to boost the resolution of common microscopes by a factor of 100, allowing medical clinics in developing countries to conduct complex tests with existing equipment.

Changhuei Yang, a professor of electrical engineering, bioengineering and medical engineering at Caltech, announced the breakthrough Sunday in an article published in Nature Photonics.

The CIT system takes multiple low-resolution images of a subject, each corresponding to a single light in an LED array below the sample. That way, the a computer has information from light hitting the sample at different angles when it stitches the images together into a composite with resolution of up to a billion pixels.

The computational system costs about $200 to add to conventional microscope.

“You only need to add an LED array to an existing microscope. No other hardware modification is needed. The rest of the job is done by the computer.”

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