Friday, May 8, 2015

Red blood cell as an adaptive optofluidic microlens

L. Miccio, P. Memmolo, F. Merola, P. A. Netti & P. Ferraro

The perspective of using live cells as lenses could open new revolutionary and intriguing scenarios in the future of biophotonics and biomedical sciences for endoscopic vision, local laser treatments via optical fibres and diagnostics. Here we show that a suspended red blood cell (RBC) behaves as an adaptive liquid-lens at microscale, thus demonstrating its imaging capability and tunable focal length. In fact, thanks to the intrinsic elastic properties, the RBC can swell up from disk volume of 90 fl up to a sphere reaching 150 fl, varying focal length from negative to positive values. These live optofluidic lenses can be fully controlled by triggering the liquid buffer’s chemistry. Real-time accurate measurement of tunable focus capability of RBCs is reported through dynamic wavefront characterization, showing agreement with numerical modelling. Moreover, in analogy to adaptive optics testing, blood diagnosis is demonstrated by screening abnormal cells through focal-spot analysis applied to an RBC ensemble as a microlens array.

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