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Meet Foldoscope, the $1 Microscope for Developing Countries

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I remember some years ago when as a young science student in Nigeria. I marveled at the wonders of microscopy and spent hours at our laboratory looking through the few available microscopes for a glimpse of the tiny creatures of nature. Thinking of getting a personal microscope then was a thought aberration, but not anymore with ‘Foldoscope,’ if only I attended the secondary school at this time.

Foldoscope is a microscope capable of providing magnification up to 2000X and can be made in 10 minutes with the powerful art of Origami, the Japannese art of folding papers.

This invention was done by 34 year old Stanford Bioengineer, Prof. Manu Prakash, he is currently working on refining the optics to improve the resolution from 700 nanometers, which is sharp enough for diagnosing African sleeping sickness, shistosomiasis, loiasis, and many other diarrheal diseases. Malaria and tuberculosis are next, he says.

The inventor is a beneficiary of  $100,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for initial development, and a four-year, $700,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to distribute 10,000 Foldscopes to beta-testers who are chosen based on the scientific questions they’d like to study. Prakash is producing the first batch of 50,000 microscopes with a manufacturer of greeting cards using a traditional die-cutting process.

Enjoy the short TED Video of Foldoscope.


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