A new generation of optical microscopes for mobile phones
Koen Mortelmans, ChipScope
Optical microscopy is entering a new world. Future microscopes will be chipsised and have super-resolution capabilities. This means they will be available in everyday life, not just in specialist laboratories. And it might become possible to detect SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses using a smartphone.
"This use of chip integrated nanoLEDs will revolutionise the way science and applications related to optical micro-scopy will be done in the future," says Angel Dieguez, professor at the University of Barcelona, Spain. "It can be used to investigate extremely small structures such as viruses, DNA or living cells, almost anywhere and in real time."
The resolution of conventional light microscopes, still standard equipment in laboratories, is limited by diffraction: they can't resolve structural features smaller than about 200 nanometres. Until now, all technologies for going beyond this limit rely on complex setups, with bulky components and advanced laboratory infrastructure. They are not suitable for mobile research devices used in field or in remote areas.