PRINCIPLES FOR NEW OPTICAL TECHNIQUES IN MEDICAL DIAGNOSTICS FOR mHEALTH APPLICATIONS
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Medical diagnostics is a critical element of effective medical treatment. However, many modern and emerging diagnostic technologies are not affordable or compatible with the needs and conditions found in low-income and middle-income countries and regions. Resource-poor areas require low-cost, robust, easy-to-use, and portable diagnostics devices compatible with telemedicine (i.e. mHealth) that can be adapted to meet diverse medical needs. Many suitable devices will need to be based on optical technologies, which are used for many types of biological analyses. This dissertation describes the fabrication and detection principles for several low-cost optical technologies for mHealth applications including: (1) a webcam based multi-wavelength fluorescence plate reader, (2) a lens-free optical detector used for the detection of Botulinum A neurotoxin activity, (3) a low cost micro-array reader that allows the performance of typical fluorescence based assays demonstrated for the detection of the toxin staphylococcal enterotoxin (SEB), and (4) a wide-field flow cytometer for high throughput detection of fluorescently labeled rare cells. This dissertation discusses how these technologies can be harnessed using readily available consumer electronics components such as webcams, cell phones, CCD cameras, LEDs, and laser diodes. There are challenges in developing devices with sufficient sensitivity and specificity, and approaches are presented to overcoming these challenges to create optical detectors that can serve as low cost medical diagnostics in resource-poor settings for mHealth.