Researchers at UCLA have developed a way to create very sharp images from digital microscopy.
Most of the time digital microscopy yields fuzzy and pixelated images (look at the left hand side of the picture).
What the researchers did was to capture several images through lens-free holograms and then combining this images with a new algorithm to get rid of fuzziness and pixelation (see image on the right end side).
Each image in the stack is taken using a different light wavelength. This creates images that are slightly different, although the noise is basically the same through out all pictures. This allows the software to discriminate the noise from the signal and create much better images.
The method can be applied, and it has been proven to work, both in conventional microscopy where you have a set of lenses to focus on the specimen (at microscopic level) and with a digital sensor with on-chip microscopy that doesn't make use of lenses. This latter is a better tool for looking, as an example, at cells during a surgery (I posted a news on this few days ago, although it is an unrelated news and uses a different technology). However, in the case of this technology the complete device is too bulky to use directly during a surgery on a patient: it requires a desk to fit on. Still, it can be used by a stand-by pathologist to look at the specimen excised by the surgeon.
Interesting how software can dramatically improve photography (microscopy is a sort of photography). I experience this every time I get a new version of Photoshop and other image manipulation programs and any time i take a picture with my digital camera. It is a completely new world, if I compare it to the film era.