Scientists develop tiny microscope

April 17, 2005 at 4:13 PM
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CARDIFF, Wales, April 17 (UPI) -- British researchers have developed an optical biochip that serves as a microscope so small it is barely visible to the human eye.

The chip developed at Cardiff University uses lasers to examine cells, the BBC reports, and then relays the information by electrical impulses. Biological material to be analyzed can be placed on the chip.

Professor Paul Smith, the head of the research team, said that the chip, which has about the thickness of a human hair, has the potential to revolutionize medicine by allowing the development of hand-held diagnostic tools to perform tasks that now involve laboratory work and hospital tests. Some diseases, like malaria, AIDS and cancer, could be diagnosed by determining how cells react to substances.

The next step is to develop prototype tools that can be used in the field, Smith said.

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