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article imageResearcher creates microscope made of almost entirely paper

By Mike White     Apr 16, 2014 in Science
A scientist has created a microscope out of mostly paper that will cost less than a dollar -- far less than the several hundred dollars most reasonable ones would cost. It will magnify objects 2,100 times and can help in fighting serious diseases.
According to, the microscope will help in the fight against malaria. Known as the "Foldscope," the microscope can be made in just minutes, has no moving parts, weighs less than 10 grams and can safely be incinerated after it has been used to dispose of biological samples that are infectious.
The microscope doesn't cost much either. Each one is less than one British pound.
"I wanted to make the best possible disease-detection instrument that we could almost distribute for free," explained Manu Prakash, assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford. Prakash is also head of the team that developed the Foldscope. "What came out of this project is what we call use-and-throw microscopy."
The Foldscope has an LED, optics and a built-in mirror. After a user has torn each part from a template, he then uses colors to match the pieces.
"If ever a technology were ripe for disruption, it is the microscope," anayyo commented on Microscopes are expensive and need to be serviced and maintained. Unfortunately, one important use of them is in poor-world laboratories and clinics, for identifying pathogens, and such places often have small budgets and lack suitably trained technicians."
The high-resolution version of the Foldscope is less than a dollar. While that version will magnify objects 2100 times, a cheaper version will cost less than 60 cents and magnify 400 times.
The Economist reported the microscope can fit in someone's pocket. It uses standard microscope slides and can be adapted by putting in a more powerful LED. It will work even when it has been in water.
Besides malaria, Foldscopes should also help diagnose other widespread diseases, including loiasis, sleeping sickness and schistosomiasis.
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