Holomic’s Dr. Ozcan Develops Smartphone Microscope to Detect Viruses

By Ketaki Sood, September 25, 2013

OzcanNanoCameraHolomic Founder, Dr. Aydogan Ozcan and his team of researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed the first ever smartphone attachment to detect viruses and bacteria, less than one-thousandth of the width of a human hair.

Ozcan’s research was published on September 9 in the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Nano. In the ACS Nano paper, Ozcan details a fluorescent microscope device fabricated by a 3-D printer that contains a color filter, an external lens and a laser diode. The diode illuminates fluid or solid samples at a steep angle of roughly 75 degrees. This oblique illumination avoids detection of scattered light that would otherwise interfere with the intended fluorescent image.

“This cellphone-based imaging platform could be used for specific and sensitive detection of sub-wavelength objects, including bacteria and viruses and therefore could enable the practice of nanotechnology and biomedical testing in field settings and even in remote and resource-limited environments,” Ozcan said. “These results also constitute the first time that single nanoparticles and viruses have been detected using a cellphone-based, field-portable imaging system.”

Weighing less than half a pound, the attachment directly attaches to the camera module of the smartphone and is able to detect single human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) particles. HCMV is a common virus known to cause birth defects, cause complication in adults that have received organs from donors, HIV patients and others with weakened immune systems.

The technology could change virus detection in field settings, displacing bulky and expensive microscopes and equipment that are used today.

Virus detection is yet another technology that Holomic plans on commercializing in addition to its rapid diagnostic reader, the HRDR-200 that was launched earlier this year. Other products in the pipeline include a fluorescent lateral flow immunoassay reader, an allergen tester and lens free holographic microscope.

Holomic’s technologies, including virus detection on a smartphone will be showcased at the $2.25 million Nokia Sensing XChallenge www.nokiasensingxchallenge.org where Holomic has been selected as a finalist www.nokiasensingxchallenge.org/teams/challenge-1-teams/holomic.

For more information on the Ozcan Research Group, visit http://org.ee.ucla.edu/

About Holomic

Holomic LLC holomic.com  was formed in 2011 to commercialize advanced BioPhotonics technologies invented at the world-renowned research laboratory of Professor Aydogan Ozcan at UCLA. The technologies include rapid diagnostic test readout; lens free holographic and tomographic microscopy; brightfield and fluorescent microscopy; and flow cytometry. The common thread is cost-effective implementations on cellphones or other lightweight portable platforms for applications in medical diagnostics and environmental monitoring.