SBIR Phase II: Wavefront Microscopy: A low-cost implementation of high-quality microscopic phase imaging for bioscience teaching and training

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase II
Award Id:
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Phase II
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
2118 Wilshire Blvd. #238, Santa Monica, CA, 90403-5704
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
George Rakuljic
(310) 909-8411
Business Contact:
George Rakuljic
(310) 909-8411
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will develop and commercialize a revolutionary method to convert standard low-cost optical microscopes into high-performance, low-cost imaging instruments for biological research and education. The technology uses a specialized image sensor to render transparent biological samples visible at optical wavelengths without staining techniques or expensive optical microscope elements requiring extensive training. In addition, the technique naturally deconvolves amplitude and phase, enabling better interpretation of "dark spots". This project represents a major application of silicon photonics, exploiting the vast semiconductor fabrication infrastructure for novel optics manufacturing techniques. In addition, this proposal addresses selected performance improvements, such as noise reduction via an added cooling unit and enlarging the field of view through denser pixel arrays. When fitted to a standard laboratory microscope, our novel sensor camera offers the capability to produce high-quality, real-time in vivo microscopic phase imaging at a significantly lower cost. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to enable high-quality, real-time microscopic images of in vivo biological samples. Our business strategy and product plan addresses two potential marketplaces: 1) Secondary schools, college teaching laboratories, and other educational settings; and 2) Academic and industrial research laboratories. Our market penetration strategy provides for educational microscope users to access our novel imaging capabilities at significantly reduced cost, revolutionizing bioscience teaching and training by rendering transparent samples visible in real time and enabling new curricula with a higher experimental component. Academic and industrial researchers also can exploit our innovative technology, using it for better imaging capabilities and removing ambiguities in dark spot interpretation. Our camera is entirely compatible with standard microscopes, enabling retrofits without technical challenges or the need for advanced training; it is also useful for observation of cultures in standard culture dishes, unlike competing techniques. This technology lies at the cutting edge of silicon photonics applications for biotechnology and represents an exciting new way to leverage silicon manufacturing economics for imaging applications.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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