A team of researchers from Stanford University has developed a paper microscope that costs one dollar. Foldscope is printed in a sheet of paper and is folded into a functional shape, in a process akin to origami. The device can be easily mass-produced and is aimed to democratize science education and to provide a diagnostic tool to field scientists and health workers in remote or developing areas.
Foldscope is a portable microscope (70 × 20 × 2 mm) that can provide 2,000X magnification with sub-micron resolution (800nm) without external power. Foldscopes for educational purposes must be folded by the user: this is thought of as part of a learning plan that includes mathematics (origami), physics (optics) and biology (microbes). They can be folded in different shapes that allow to practice different imaging techniques: bright-field, dark-field, reflected light, polarization, fluorescence and projection microscopy. Diagnostic microscopes are pre-folded. Standard glass slides and cover slips can be used, although plastic slides are provided.
Foldscope is being tested for disease diagnostics
Foldscope is currently being tested in the field and in clinical settings for the diagnosis of malaria, chagas and many other diseases. The team is looking for health professionals to collaborate in disease evaluations.
Foldscope users around the world share their ideas and explorations in an online forum. The Foldscope team and partners celebrate workshops and demonstrations to engage the local communities in the practice of science.
Foldscope microscopes are already being used in educational settings, but they are not commercially available yet. The team is planning to launch the product through a startup or a spinoff.