SEP 08, 2015 9:55 PM PDT

Check Out the Foldscope, a Paper Microscope That Costs Less Than $1 to Make

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

When you want to get a closer look at things and can’t afford a full-blown microscope, why not make your own out of paper?
 
The Foldscope is a paper microscope designed by Manu Prakash, PhD, of the renowned Stanford University, that can be assembled for under $1. In fact, the cost to produce one can range from 45-55¢ and it’s actually fairly durable despite being made from paper.
Manu Prakash, PhD, the designer of the Foldscope.
Respected science reporter Aaron Pomerantz took one of these portable paper microscopes out for a spin in the Amazon forest to see what he could look at under the lens, and was very satisfied with the magnification results. The Foldscope can magnify things from anywhere between 140x and 440x.
 
"Long story short, this device is amazing," Pomerantz said about the Foldscope after having used it. "I was able to investigate tiny insects, mites, fungi and plant cells from 140X (magnification) to 480X."
 
You can watch Pomerantz take the Foldscope for a spin and use in the Amazon forest in the video below:


 
As you could see, not only could you view things through the viewfinder at a magnified level, but also you could even snap pictures of the magnification with your smartphone’s camera.
 
You can also visit Pomerantz’ own blog to view more of the pictures and even videos that he recorded with his smartphone of what the Foldscope was capable of producing in terms of magnification.
 
Making one of these Foldscopes is not only easy, but can be a fun experience. There’s almost no reason that at the cost it takes to assemble one of these things that every child couldn’t hold their own paper microscope and let their curious minds run rampant.
 
The design of the Foldscope is punched out of a type of thick paper, which is where it gets its durability. From there, as the name suggests, the paper gets folded in a very specific design, which helps the individual parts lock into place. The lens and additional materials are about 50¢ to obtain, which coupled with the paper, puts you at just under a dollar.
 
At this point in time, the Foldscope isn’t actually available as a kit yet, but the researchers from Stanford University behind the project are hoping to make it commercially available in the future, as such a tool can be useful while in the wild when attempting to diagnose diseases.
 
Also worthy of noting is that because it’s cheap and easy to make, after being tainted with potentially infectious biological samples for viewing, it can be destroyed and a new one can be produced without the risk of spreading the infection.
 
You know you want one of these things now…

Source: The Next Gen Scientist

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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