New device reveals spinning head of sperm and gives scientists clearest view of its 3-D motion | 9/14/2017 | Staff
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Scientists have been observing sperm cells since the invention of the optical microscope. But surprisingly little has been known about sperm swimming patterns in 3-D – information that could help and improve scientists' understanding of the biophysics of sperm locomotion, which can shed light on key physical attributes of healthy and defect sperm.

Now, a microscope developed by researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) has made it possible to precisely track the motion of sperm heads and tails in 3-D with unprecedented accuracy and detail. The device, which uses holography and image reconstruction algorithms, is described in a paper in Light: Science and Applications.

Work - Aydogan - Ozcan - UCLA - Chancellor

The work was led by Aydogan Ozcan, UCLA's Chancellor's Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Bioengineering and an associate director of CNSI.

Most conventional microscopes in laboratories and clinical settings can only observe sperm's movement in 2-D and across a very small sample volume. Therefore they cannot capture 3-D details of sperm movement, like the spin of the sperm head or the rapid motion of its tail, or flagellum.

Microscope - Replaces - Algorithms - Image - Sperms

"Our holographic microscope replaces lenses with algorithms, and can image sperms over a sample volume that is approximately 100 times larger than that of standard optical microscopes," said Mustafa Daloglu, a UCLA doctoral student and first author of the study. "The data we collected allowed us to precisely observe the sperm movements in 3-D and reveal spinning sperm head and flagellar beating patterns in freely moving sperm, which could not be reported before our work."

This computational imaging platform is made of inexpensive components, including an image sensor, like those used in mobile phone cameras, costing a few dollars per...
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