Guoan Zheng's goal is to make it easier for scientists and doctors to diagnose Malaria out in the field. Zheng, shown above, has created a microchip that would allow doctors the ability to turn their cell phones into high powered microscopes. The chip that Zheng built has a sub-pixel resolving optofluidic microscope, built into the microchip. This microscope has very small tubes that can pass a blood sample directly over a CMOS sensor (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) which takes several low resolution pictures of the sample. From there, the images are loaded onto a computer utilizing image enhancing software through a USB port. The software combines all of the images together and turns them into one high resolution image allowing doctors the ability to scan for malaria and other blood born diseases. This process is estimated to cost only 50 cents per sample, which would make testing malaria very cheap and more accessible.
With medical diagnostic technology becoming as portable as a cell phone and laptop computer, this could make a huge impact on the world epidemics. For a doctor to be able to leave his office with just his cell and a laptop, take samples from infected organisms, test them on the spot, and provide instruction on how to treat the illness, would be a great advantage in disaster relief projects across the world. For an example, assuming this technology is expanded to include various types of testing, doctors could be field testing radiation effects on those Japanese citizens who live near the failing nuclear plants using new technology on their cell phones. The faster they are able to get on the field and start testing, the quicker they can make decisions on how to treat the infected and evacuate those still in danger.
The benefits in this type of technology seem to be great. Of course the initial technology will take a great amount of research to get it to work consistently and interact well with different digital environments, but once established, it should be fairly easy and cheap to operate. With Zheng being able to further research and refine his microchip, this field of medical technology will definitely gain more recognition and inspire more engineers.
Study Guide Questions:
1. What is the name of the man featured in this article?
2. What is the approximate cost per sample tested with using Zheng's chip?
3. What type of censor is utilized by Zheng's chip?
Greenemeier, Larry. "2011 Lemelson-M.I.T. Student Inventor Prizes Offer a Glimpse of the Future in Medical and Security Screening Tech." Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American. 9 Mar. 2011. Web. 14 Mar. 2011. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=lemelson-mit-student-award-2011.