Incubation of cells is frequently required in clinical practice as well as for laboratory work. Currently, a dedicated incubator is used along with a traditional microscope to do this, but together they make a bulky combination that consumes valuable lab space. At the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, researchers developed a Coke can sized device that conveniently combines both functions.
The incubator is able to regulate the temperature inside while providing a constant supply of nutrients to the cells growing on a replaceable glass plate. Time-lapse observations can be done for a period of weeks automatically, as the microscope atop the device autonomously takes photos that are saved to a computer. Image analysis software can then be used to analyze the cells being examined. Because of the small size of the device, multiple studies can be performed in the space previously dedicated to only one study.