Made from a single sheet of paper, the Foldscope optical microscope can be easily, cheaply and sustainably mass-produced and distributed.
A number of developing countries around the tropical belt, including many parts of Africa and Asia still suffer from a number of life threatening but easily treatable illnesses. Today, a million people die every year from Malaria and a further billion people are at risk. Using origami to democratise science education and tackle some of the globe’s biggest health problems, the Foldscope –like any other microscope– allows its users to see tiny disease-causing life forms leading to prompt and accurate diagnosis.
Each Foldscope has built-in florescent filters to allow easy diagnosis of a number of illnesses and can provide over 2,000x magnification with incredible resolution (800nm). Simply snap the pieces from the sheet of paper and assemble the Foldscope using the colour code instructions. After putting the slide in, hold the Foldscope up to a light to view the sample – the image can be focussed by using the sliding tabs. Using a simple light source, like a torch, an image of the sample can also be projected onto a wall. The durable, lightweight and small enough to fit in a pocket design also requires no external power, and can survive being dropped from a three-story building.
With the wide distribution of the print-and-fold microscope, people can be easily tested and diagnosed for treatment instead of traveling long distances or waiting months to see a medical practitioner. By putting Foldscopes in the hands of all remote health workers, the device not only saves lives, but provides a real hands-on science education to a number of maginalised groups.