Have you ever found yourself staring into a half-filled cup of water at a straw--wondering what kind of kooky laws light obeys that can result in this shattered view? Maybe not, but I bet Xiquan Cui and colleagues at Caltech have.
In their most recent article, published an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they image Caenorhabditis elegans (a nematode) without using lenses.
The image here (click for larger version) demonstrates pretty amazingly that this novel imaging technique outshines an optical microscope. Besides, the tiny fluid based magnifiers are much cheaper and don't rely on any kind of "miniaturization" technique. Within microfluidics, it's usually a good idea to start small and stay small.
The authors claim that this new technologydubbed "optoﬂuidic microscopy""can signiﬁcantly address a range of biomedical and bioscience needs and engender new microscope applications." That actually sounds a bit modest on their part. I might go so far as to suggest they've contributed significantly to microfluidics.
X. Cui, L. M. Lee, X. Heng, W. Zhong, P. W. Sternberg, D. Psaltis, C. Yang (2008). Lensless high-resolution on-chip optofluidic microscopes for Caenorhabditis elegans and cell imaging Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105 (31), 10670-10675 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0804612105