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What if any field researcher had the tools to study microbes?

Foldscope Instruments’ $1 paper microscope

Problem
Research on a microscopic level has led to breakthrough innovations from healthcare to agriculture. But traditional microscopes are often expensive and bulky. They break easily and are difficult to replace.

Solution
Stanford scientists Manu Prakash and Jim Cybulski developed the Foldscope, a foldable microscope made mostly from paper. It’s ultra-portable and costs less than $1 to produce.

Impact
Foldscope Instruments’ initial pilot program distributed more than 60,000 Foldscopes to 135+ countries; to date, the organization has distributed nearly 650,000 Foldscopes. Recipients contribute their findings to a budding online community called the Microcosmos. Foldscopes have been used to identify the microscopic eggs of agricultural pests in India, catalog the biodiversity of soil arthropods in the Amazon, and map pollen diversity in city landscapes.

Read more about Foldscope in the New Yorker, Wired, the Atlantic, the New York Times, and MIT Technology Review.

An early design sketch of the Foldscope.
The Foldscope kit, used by students, teachers, and researchers in more than 135 countries around the world.
Published: 04/04/2019