Miniaturized Microscope Array Digital Slide Scanner

Technology #ua01-043

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Roland Shack
Professor, Optical Sciences
Peter Bartels
Professor Emeritus, Optical Sciences
Chen Liang
Graduate Assistant, Optical Sciences
Michael Descour
Associate Professor, Optical Sciences
Ronald Weinstein
Department Head, Pathology
Managed By
Rakhi Gibbons
Asst. Director, Life Sciences (520) 626-6695

Introduction:  Pathologists are responsible for analyzing tissue, cytology, and liquid specimens by light microscopy. Typically the pathologist view digital images that have been recorded from a tissue sample slide. The acquisition of these images requires a motorized light microscope that scans the slide and takes an image at each coordinate. This is both expensive and time consuming; relatively minutes to hours, depending on the size of the slide.


Invention:  To expedite the image acquisition process, inventors at the University of Arizona have developed a technology, which entails a novel miniaturized microscope array (MMA), which can be used to scan an entire microscope slide in a single pass. For digital imaging, the MMA replaces the single lens system of a conventional light microscope with a planar array comprised of over 100 highly miniaturized microscopes. The images from each miniature microscope are individually grabbed, stored as the type of media file indicated, and then electronically stitched into a larger digital file. The stitched file can be retrieved at a workstation and viewed in its entirety.

The MMA system is to be constructed with identical and individual microscopes. Each individual microscope itself has a small field of view (FOV) but any FOV can be achieved when the mini-microscopes are stacked together. The miniaturized microscopes are arranged in staggered rows so as to have overlapping fields of view. Each microscope’s field of view is imaged. The MMA has a senor, which allows it to scan an entire specimen slide, repeatedly only stopping momentarily for imaging. This type of configurations allows image acquisition to be instantaneous.


  • Through miniaturization of the optical system and assembly of multiple optical imagers into an MMA, it is possible to scan and capture digital images of entire pathology microscope slides in a matter of seconds rather than minutes as is required for the accrual of hundreds of digital images using a conventional motorized light microscope with a single optical pathway;
  • Current market consists of optical systems, which incorporate the photolithography technology to print electrical circuits. The drawback with this is approach is size and cost, namely too large and expensive. This technology proposes an inexpensive solution.

Status:  Test data on optical-element prototypes is available and a single microscope prototype has been demonstrated.  A US Patent No.:  7,184,610 has issued on 02/07/2007. This invention is held by the University of Arizona and the inventors seek development partners to help diversify the technology. Interested partners should contact the University of Arizona for additional information.

Keywords:  Miniaturized microscope; digital slide; light microscopy; pathology


Lead Inventor:  Ronald Weinstein and Michael Descour


UAID: UA01-043