Stanford's Manu Prakash has developed a low-cost model of the traditional microscope entirely of paper. 'The Foldscope', as his paper microscope is called, comprises three stages- a specimen stage where the slide is placed, an optic stage where the ball lens is kept, and an illumination stage that holds an LED light. To view the sample, users shall have to hold the paper against their eyebrows, with eye close to the lens - just as we use the traditional microscope. User's thumb shall control the magnification and image panning, even the sliding required to view different areas of the image.
Field tests have revealed many shortcomings with Foldscope - eye-strain, ergonomics and examining infectious samples so close to the body. Researchers are thus working on a different microscope that'll address these concerns. The specialized microscope will have a projection system that lets for magnified images to be projected against a screen/wall.
Foldscopes in the future shall be specifically designed for certain diseases - a correlating microscope especially for that disease. This will not only reduce prices, but will also bypass the tedious optimisation process observed with traditional multipurpose microscopes. Also, these microscopes could easily be pocketed then, claim the researchers.
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