Foldscope: A Paper Microscope That Costs <$1 And Offers 2,000X Magnification

Stanford Assistant Professor and TED Fellow Manu Prakash has taken the humble paper to newer heights by making a microscope out of it using the old art of Origami and infusing modern technology into it. The Foldscope is a bookmark sized paper microscope that offers 2000X magnification and costs around 50 cents (approx 50 INR). The microscope does not have any mechanical components and it can be assembled by almost anyone within ten minutes. The paper microscope can withstand falls, resist water and survive any impact. The Foldscope will be implemented in under-developed and developing countries like Kenya, Uganda and India to detect dangerous diseases like Malaria, African sleeping sickness, Schistosomiasis and Chagas.


Prakash managed to make this microscope very inexpensive by using spherical lenses instead of precision-ground curved glass lenses which are used in conventional microscopes. The Foldscope works in the following manner. The desired sample is placed in a paper slide and wedged between paper layers of the microscope. The user then holds the microscope close to his/her eye and focuses on the sample by sliding the paper platform with his/her fingers. Since the microscope is made out of paper it can be instantly incinerated to get rid of the infectious biological samples it has identified.

Design of Foldscope

Apart from the base model that costs 17 cents (10 INR), Foldscope can also be modified by adding watch battery powered coloured LEDs, sample stains and fluorescent filters for detecting specific organisms. The best modification however is the one where the Foldscope can be configured to project images on walls. Prakash had won a grant from the Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to begin his work on the Foldscope. Once he perfected the design he asked his students to use the Foldscope for writing reports on microscopic observations. The students were also involved in designing accessories for the Foldscope such as a smartphone camera attachment.

Magnification Results

To know more about Foldscope, head over to the Stanford bioengineer develops a 50-cent paper microscope - Scope, Stanford microscope inventor featured on TED Talk - Scope, #-Link-Snipped-# and have a look at Prakash’s #-Link-Snipped-#. If are running short of time then you can also stream Prakash’s TED Talk below.

Source: Ultra-cheap 'origami' microscope developed - BBC News


  • Anoop Kumar
    Anoop Kumar
    I saw this video yesterday, this could revolutionize the diagnostic field and can save thousands of life.
    Awesome job.
  • Ankita Katdare
    Ankita Katdare
    This is simply amazing. If we can get step by step process of how to fold that paper, we can all print it and see a demonstration for ourselves.

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