This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

Device rotates a single cell to take 3D images with a phone

05 April 2016

A new, simple and compact device will allow researchers to take 3D images of single cells or organisms using only a mobile phone.

Shutterstock image

The device uses acoustic waves to vibrate trapped bubbles in a series of small cavities. The vibration creates microvortexes in the flowing liquid that are tunable so the sample rotates in any direction and at any desired speed.

“Currently confocal microscopes are required in many biological, biochemical, and biomedical studies, but many labs do not have access to a confocal microscope, which costs more than $200,000,” says Tony Jun Huang, a professor of engineering science and mechanics and chair in bioengineering sciences at Penn State.

Huang and his group created the device called acoustofluidic rotational manipulation (ARM).

“Our ARM method is a very inexpensive platform and it is compatible with all the optical characterisation tools. You can literally use a mobile phone to do three-dimensional imaging.”

To demonstrate the device’s capabilities, the researchers rotated C. elegans, a model organism about a millimeter in length frequently used in biological studies. They also acoustically rotated and imaged a HeLa cancer cell.

Existing methods of manipulating small objects depend on the optical, magnetic, or electrical properties of the specimen, and/or damage the specimen due to laser heating. The ARM method, on the other hand, uses a gentle acoustic wave generated by a power similar to ultrasound imaging, and at a lower frequency. The device is also compact and simple to use.

“Our method is a valuable platform for imaging and studying the effect of rotation at the single cell level,” says Adem Ozceki, graduate student in engineering science and mechanics and one of the lead authors of the study published in Nature Communications. “More important, with the capacity to rotate large numbers of cells in parallel, researchers will be able to perform high-throughput, single-cell studies.”

The National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Centre for Nanoscale Science at Penn State supported the work.

The original study can be found here.

For more information, visit the Futurity website.


Print this page | E-mail this page