Insights from BCC Research

Fluorescent Cells Grown Using CMOS Image Sensors

Posted by Clayton Luz on Oct 23, 2017 2:00:00 PM
Sensors-Image.jpegThe charge coupled device (CCD) and complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensor market should see robust growth in the next five years, chiefly from technological advancements and increasing number of applications areas.
Miniaturization is a key trend in this market, along with improved communication capabilities, which enable the integration of CCD and CMOS sensors into various devices and machines without compromising other functionalities.
In Japan, researchers bolstered the miniaturization trend when they developed a platform that enables scientists to image fluorescent cells grown inside a chip using a CMOS image sensor. The platforms combines contact (lens-free) fluorescence microscopy and disposable microfluidic chips to create a new on-chip cell analysis platform, reports Optics & Photonics News. Basically, it’s the same technology that can be found in a smartphone camera.
“Conventional tabletop-type optical microscopes are powerful tools for researchers, but they are not truly adequate for fully automated systems because of the expense and the necessity of well-trained technicians,” says Hiroaki Takehara, a researcher at the University of Tokyo and one of the study’s authors.
Takehara collaborated with Jun Ohta, an expert in CMOS image sensor technology at the Japan-based Nara Institute of Science and Technology.
The platform consists of a CMOS fluorescence imager and an ultra-thin glass-bottom microfluidic chip. According to Optics & Photonic News, “proof-of-concept experiments using fluorescently tagged live cells showed that the platform could be used to rapidly image cells grown inside the device with minimal distortion.”
While other researchers have developed chip-based fluorescent microscopy systems previously, those set-ups required the sample to sit directly on the image sensor chip, which introduced the risk of cross-contamination. These systems didn’t offer high-throughput because the sensor chips had to be washed between uses. To overcome those limitations, Takehara and colleagues developed disposable chips containing microfluidic channels specially designed for culturing cells.
The chip has an ultra-thin glass bottom that minimizes the distance between the cells and the contact sensor below. A CMOS image sensor detects the fluorescence emitted by the cells, turns it into an electronic signal and then reconstructs the image.
The researchers grew cells containing fluorescent dyes in their nuclei within the microchannels. When the cells were exposed cells to endothelial growth factor (EGF), the cultures yielded a more intense fluorescence signal than cultures that were untreated with EGF, indicating that the sensor detected cell growth.
The authors acknowledge that the on-chip fluorescence microscopy platform produces images with poorer spatial resolution than those of conventional fluorescence microscopes. However, it offers the advantage of compatibility with fully automated systems. The miniaturization of the platform and its affordability also make it attractive for use in implantable devices for measuring glucose or even brain activity.
Takehara intends to explore the use of the platform for monitoring stem cell production for use in regenerative medicine and for screening new drugs.
“The excessive cost of developing novel pharmaceutical drugs and the urgent requirement for screening technology has become a pressing issue,” he says. “A fully automated system, from sample handling to detection, without the necessity of well-trained technicians is a key technology, and serves a pivotal role in the development of cell-based cost-effective screening.”
The new system was described in AIP Advances.
In its October analysis, CCD and CMOS Sensors: Technologies and Global Markets, BCC Research expects the demand for CCD and CMOS image sensors to grow exponentially through 2022, leading to a market value of $30.3 billion in the end year, up from $13.9 billion in 2017.
This comprehensive report of the global market for charge couple device (CCD) and complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensors includes detailed analyses of the market through market sizes, value chain, revenue forecasts, and market and product trends. To learn more, download the free report overview.

Topics: Photonics