Today, optical microscopes are limited in resolution by physical laws related to the wavelength of light, around half a thousandth of a millimetre. Single proteins, DNA molecules or the interior of living cells are much smaller and cannot be directly observed with conventional optical microscopes. The objective of the ChipScope project is to develop a new kind of optical microscope allowing to see the infinitely small.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project, the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time the interior of cells present in a disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a chronic age-related lung disease killing 0.5 Million people each year worldwide.
The new microscope will be affordable and ubiquitously available. In science, it is expected to lead to fundamental breakthroughs in virtually every field of research that currently makes use of optical microscopes – particularly in the medical field. Making microscopic images will be easy and accessible to researchers who operate out in the field, away from scientific infrastructures and they will be affordable to researchers in developing countries. In the future, these microscopes-in-a-chip could also be integrated into consumer electronic products, being as common as a camera is in a smartphone today.
For more information on this FET-Open project's consortium, objectives and achievements, please check ChipScope website.