The main motive for the creation of the microscope was the struggle against malaria — in the developing countries about a billion microscopic examinations of the blood samples per year have to be carried out for malaria diagnosis. A standard laboratory microscope is an expensive and fragile device. Stanford scientists have managed to construct a microscope with magnification up to the 2000x, while the cost of all the components in a mass production will be 97 cents. The microscope body is cut out and folded from a sheet of thick paper. Other components are a flat battery, a LED switch, a piece of conductive copper tape and a glass or a sapphire ball lens.
Paper microscope fits easily in your one’s pocket, weighs less than ten grams, can be used for brightfield, darkfield, polarized and fluorescent microscopy, and even work as a projector. One battery lasts for 50 hours. Microscope can easily endure pretty rough usage, it can even be stepped on, it can be dropped on the floor — it can withstand anything that a piece of cardboard can withstand. The quality of the microscope image is sufficient to determine various types of infections in outdoor conditions.
The simple design and low cost allow to speak about other promising applications in scientific and medical purposes, as well as at schools. The microscope can be put together in 10-20 minutes, and its price can be even lower, if instead of the most expensive component — the sapphire lens — much less expensive optics with smaller magnification are used. In one lesson each student is able to self-assemble the microscope and conduct a series of experiments.
An article detailing the design and characteristics of the microscope is published openly.