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US researchers develop billion-pixel microscope

22 July 2015

A microscope comprising thousands of microlenses and capable of capturing nearly 17 billion pixels in a single image has been developed by Harvard researchers.

HeLA cells as viewed through the gigapixel microscope (photo: Antony Orth)

Developed by Antony Orth, formerly of Harvard University now at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and Ethan Schonbrun of Harvard’s Rowland Institute, the microscope speeds up cellular imaging, making it easier to observe how cells respond to drug treatments. The research is published in the journal, Optica.

The microscope uses thousands of microlenses — each about the width of a human hair — and a dispersive prism to capture thousands of images and spectra simultaneously. The individual images are stitched together into one large mosaic, enabling the visualisation of more than 13 resolvable colours in an extraordinarily large number of cells.
 
You can zoom in on the image shown here, by viewing it on GigaPan.


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