There is great variability among different organisms in their ability to naturally or artificially synthesize and accumulate lipids, hydrocarbons, and polymers. Consequently, many organisms must be screened in order to achieve the desired maximal bio-product accumulation. After an ideal organism is selected, its product content can vary with lifecycle stage, cultivation conditions, cellular stress and/or time. This variability must be understood and controlled during R&D, process development and manufacturing scale-up in order to maximize product yields. The above process of screening and development can be time-consuming and consequently costly. To address this situation, scientists at UC Berkeley have developed a method for quick and precise estimation of lipid, hydrocarbon or biopolymer content in live cells -- whether grown as single cells or in colonies. This method can be used for screening a variety of microorganisms for product accumulation (microorganism prospecting), and to check yields throughout the production process -- allowing for more rapid improvement of production methods and shortened R&D timelines.