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Affiliated Commission of

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ICO Awards

ICO Prize 2015

January 2016 Number 106

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Aydogan Ozcan

University of California (UCLA), Los Angeles, USA


The ICO Prize Committee awarded the ICO Prize 2015 to Aydogan Ozcan, Chancellor’s Professor and HHMI Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of California (UCLA). The award citation reads “for his seminal contributions to bio-photonics technologies impacting computational microscopy and digital holography for telemedicine and global health applications”.

Dr. Aydogan Ozcan is one of the most innovative researchers in bio-photonics field and in particular, together with his group, he pioneered the area of lensless high‐throughput cytometry and computational on-chip microscopy platforms. Indeed, various different means of counting or characterization of cells have been out for many years now. However most of the existing cell counting systems are unfortunately either quite complex and expensive, or low‐throughput. As a transformative solution, Dr. Ozcan developed a computational high-throughput on-chip microscopy system that can analyze more than 100,000 cells within a few seconds over a sample field of view of >10‐20 cm2. Based on partially coherent digital in‐line holography, using this platform Dr. Ozcan demonstrated various landmark results for computational on‐chip imaging, including the imaging of single viruses or nano‐particles across a very large field of view of for example > 20‐30 mm2. This technique consists of forming liquid nano‐lenses around each nano‐particle seated on a hydrophilic surface. These self‐assembled nano‐lenses are stable for more than an hour at room temperature without significant evaporative loss, and are composed of a bio‐compatible buffer that prevents nano‐particle aggregation while also acting as a spatial ‘phase mask’ that relatively enhances the scattered light from the embedded nano‐particle/nano‐lens assembly. These results constitute the first time that single nano‐particles and viruses have been imaged using lensfree on-chip imaging techniques. Such an advancement in performance is achieved through a unique implementation of pixel‐super‐resolution in partially coherent lensfree holography as well as self‐assembly of liquid nano‐lenses that enhance the holograms of individual nanoobjects. The same computational framework was also pushed by Dr. Ozcan’s lab into a field-portable and cost-effective nano-particle imaging and quantification interface, with various applications in environmental monitoring and biomedicine.

 Figure 1. Nanoparticle imaging and sizing platform based on lensfree holographic imaging on a chip. Physical hardware photograph and diagram are shown. Imaging and vapor-condensed nanolens self-assembly are performed in a single hand-held device.

Another unique landmark result that Dr. Ozcan pioneered is wide‐field lensfree on‐chip imaging technique which can track the three‐dimensional (3D) trajectories of >1,500 individual human sperms within an observation volume of ~8‐17 mm3 with sub‐micron accuracy. This high‐throughput imaging platform demonstrated more than an order of magnitude larger imaging volume compared to other microscopy tools permitting to track the 3D swimming patterns of human or animal sperms over several hours.

Furthermore, some of these computational imaging and microscopy techniques of Dr. Ozcan are also miniaturized and integrated onto regular cell‐phones and thus show significant promise especially for telemedicine and point-of-care diagnostic applications, especially relevant to global health problems in resource limited setting.

Figure 2. (Left) A prototype of a handheld lensfree super-resolution microscope (weighing 20 mm2 super-resolution and its assembly is extremely cost-effective. (Right) High-resolution and wide-field imaging of a Pap smear using lensfree microscopy. . This lensfree microscope is based on digital in-line holography and pixel.


Figure 3. Computational Microscopy, Sensing and Diagnostic Tools – Created in Ozcan’s Lab. (a) A lensfree holographic microscope that weighs ~45 grams. (b) A cellphone that is modified based on the same lensless holographic microscopy technology. (c) A wide-field fluorescent microscope that is installed on a cellphone using a compact and cost-effective optical interface. (d) An imaging fluorescent flow-cytometer installed on a cellphone. (e-f) A cellphone attachment for automated reading and quantification of immunochromatographic rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs). (g-h) A compact and cost-effective blood analysis platform installed on a cellphone for the measurement of the density of red and white blood cells as well as hemoglobin concentration in blood samples. (i) An optical attachment for E. coli detection on a cellphone using quantum dot based sandwich assay in glass capillary tubes, with a detection sensitivity of ~5-10 CFU/mL. (j) A personalized allergen testing platform running on a cellphone that images and automatically analyzes colorimetric assays toward sensitive (~1 ppm) and specific detection of allergens in food samples. (k) Cellphone based fluorescent microscope that is capable of imaging single nanoparticles. (l) Detection and spatial mapping of mercury contamination in water samples using a smart-phone (sensitivity: ~3-4 ppb). (m) Smartphone-based urinary albumin tester. (n) Immunochromatographic diagnostic test analysis using Google Glass.

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