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Each year millions of lives are lost in developing nations due to diseases that are curable, such as malaria, however an origami microscope that costs just 50 cents could be about to change this. Lives are often lost as the disease is not identified and treated early enough, which causes the treatment to be delayed. Now a Stanford University research group who goes by the name of PrakashLab have invented the Foldscope. This is a working microscope that is printed and folded from just one sheet of paper.
The origami microscopes are very inexpensive to make and are portable. In the past these have been two qualities that have been missing in the world of diagnostic tools. They have also been the number one reason why a death from illness that is treatable has occurred in developing countries. The Foldscope is printed out onto one single sheet of paper and the user them assembles it. The instructions are universal as they are not printed out, instead they are colour coded, which shows the user where to fold.
The idea behind the foldable microscope is much like origami paper folding which is a traditional Japanese art of paper folding which began during the 17th century. The goal behind it was to take a single sheet of paper and transform it into a sculpture, such as the crane, simply by folding it and without the need for cutting with scissors and using glue. Some very intricate designs can be made despite the amount of basic origami folds being small, as they can be combined.
When made up the origami microscope offers 20000 x magnification and doesn’t need external power. It fits into the pocket, is very durable and can be taken anywhere, even to the world’s remotest locations. The device costs just 50 cent each, which means that clinics and healthcare facilities can afford to have several of them.
[Image Source: Foldscope]
The professor of PrakashLab, Manu Prakash talked about the many amazing possibilities and capabilities of the origami microscope. The Foldscope is able to reduce the amount of time waiting for diagnostics, which means that anyone who is ill is able to receive the correct treatment immediately. The professor said that he hopes the foldable microscope will inspire the next generation of scientists so that they will become involved with their world and begin to explore.