Sunday, 26 April 2020

Mirrored chip could enable handheld dark-field microscopes

Scientists generate dark-field images by fitting standard microscopes with often costly components to illumine the sample stage with a hollow, highly angled cone of light. When a translucent sample is placed under a dark-field microscope, the cone of light scatters off the sample's features to create an image of the sample on the microscope's camera, in bright contrast to the dark background.

Now, engineers at MIT have developed a small, mirrored chip that helps to produce dark-field images, without dedicated expensive components. The chip is slightly larger than a postage stamp and as thin as a credit card. When placed on a microscope's stage, the chip emits a hollow cone of light that can be used to generate detailed dark-field images of algae, bacteria, and similarly translucent tiny objects.

The new optical chip can be added to standard microscopes as an affordable, downsized alternative to conventional dark-field components. The chip may also be fitted into hand-held microscopes to produce images of microorganisms in the field.


C├ęcile A. C. Chazot, Sara Nagelberg, Christopher J. Rowlands, Maik R. J. Scherer, Igor Coropceanu, Kurt Broderick, Yunjo Kim, Moungi G. Bawendi, Peter T. C. So, Mathias Kolle. Luminescent surfaces with tailored angular emission for compact dark-field imaging devices. Nature Photonics, 2020; DOI: 10.1038/s41566-020-0593-1

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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