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Barcode Scanner Microscope Analyzes Complex Medical Problems

An advanced microscope that uses barcode laser scanner technology can film moving blood cells and neurons in living animals. Engineers at The Australian National University (ANU) built the microscope using technology similar to retail barcode scanners and office laser printers. Lead researcher Steve Lee, a biomedical optics engineer, said the invention was much more powerful than similar microscopes available commercially.

In barcode scanners, a laser beam bounces off a spinning polygon mirror, allowing it to scan across a sample very quickly. A barcode scanner registers a sequence of patterns to identify a product. A polygon mirror usually has around 10 mirror facets. The ANU researchers used a more powerful laser beam as the light source and up to 36 mirror facets to scan the laser beam across the biological sample in a few thousandths of a second.

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