lens-free microscope is a simple device which records the diffraction pattern of a thin sample at a short sample-detector distance (typically <1mm) on a CMOS sensor. Focusing optics are not needed because the sample image is generated via computation, using holographic reconstruction techniques. Advantages of this time-lapse imaging technique include low cost, robustness, large field of view (≈30mm²) and compact size, which allows direct dynamic monitoring of cell cultures within an incubator.
This novel optical method can provide robust real-time analysis of cell cultures based on cell count, cell tracking, and cell viability without any staining. It gives access to a large number of parameters useful for real-time cell culture monitoring, including cell area, dry mass, thickness, major axis length, and cycle duration.