A new microscopy technique that creates holographic images from bacteria may be more efficient than culturing and other traditional methods for identifying bacteria, according to research published in Optics Express.

The novel method for identifying bacteria involves shooting laser light onto individual bacteria under a microscope to create holographic images. Bacteria is then classified using a mathematical function called a Fourier Transform and specially designed sorting software, which is similar to what computers use for facial recognition, according to a press release.

“Employing laser holographic techniques, we achieved rapid and label-free identification of bacterial species at the single bacterium level with a single-shot measurement,” YongKeun Park, PhD, of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Daejeon, South Korea said in a news release. “This means the present method can be utilized as a prescreening test for point-of-care bacterial diagnosis for various applications including medicine and food hygiene.”