Tunable Vapor-Condensed Nano-Lenses

Tech ID: 24964 / UC Case 2014-784-0


UCLA researchers in the Department of Electrical Engineering have developed an improved and cost-efficient nanolens to visualize nanoparticles and viral particles with 50 fold greater detection and more than 10 fold field-of-view compared to other imaging modalities.


Various methods exist to fabricate micro-scale lenses to image very small particles. Current forms of nanolenses, however, have limited resolution and sensitivity. Furthermore, imaging particles of a particular shape (i.e rod-shaped particles) may be problematic. The problem is further amplified when the particles are at a low concentration, making the capture of “rare events” unlikely.


Dr. Ozcan’s Lab in the Department of Electrical Engineering has showed that by exposing nanoparticles attached on a coverslip to polyethylene glycol (PEG) vapors, a thin film of PEG condenses over the particle samples, generating a meniscus and thus forming a nanolens. This nanolens is then placed in a lens-free holographic on-chip microscope for image generation. The method applied by Dr. Ozcan’s Lab allows for greater control of parameters (i.e. temperature) during lens fabrication.


  • This invention can be used as an imaging technique/tool to visualize both nanoparticles as well as viral particles, and can also be used as a viral load measurement tool
  • The technique is particularly useful in imaging low concentration particles and viruses


  • Higher signal-to-noise ratio and increase field-of-view compared to other lenses
  • Imaging modality (a lens-free holographic on-chip microscope) is more cost-effective than conventional microscopy
  • A wide range of nanoparticles (various materials and shape) as well as modifications can used

State Of Development

The newly fabricated nanolenses has been successfully used to image both spherical and rod-shaped nanoparticles with greater sensitivity (~50 folds) and greater field-of-view (~10 folds) compared to standard methods. Furthermore, the lens is compatible with various nanomaterials and chemical modifications.

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 10,088,663 10/02/2018 2014-784

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  • Ozcan, Aydogan

Other Information


nanoparticles, viruses, viral load measurements, nano imaging, visualization, improved resolution, lenses, microscope, nanolenses, nanoimaging, lens-free microscopy, on-chip imaging, self-assembly, wide-field microscopy

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