Inexpensive paper microscopes may be headed for a classroom near you—and you can buy one too. Several years ago, Stanford University researchers unveiled a microscope that can be built from a single piece of paper with an LED and a lens, allowing aspiring scientists to explore the micro world for less than a dollar. Now, a Kickstarter campaign is making Foldoscope’s technology available to consumers ahead of the product’s wider commercial release, as Popular Science reports.
The origami microscope comes with a glass lens that boasts a high enough magnification to see red blood cells and watch live bacteria, at 140 times magnification and a two-micron resolution. The Kickstarter kit comes with associated lab tools like microscope slides and tweezers. The Foldoscope is also compatible with a smartphone, so you can take videos and photos of the amazing stuff you see on those microscope slides, and the kit comes with a cellphone clip to make that process even easier.
Your kit won’t cost as little as $1, though. At the classroom scale, the company can sell the packs cheaply, but for individual consumers, the Kickstarter kits start around $18, reflecting the cost of the extra tools. However, teachers can currently buy 20 packs of microscopes for just $25, or you can donate the classroom kit to a school (scheduled for August 2017 delivery). The makers of Foldoscope hope to sell 1 million microscopes next year.
If you’re stingy, you can always use your own paper at home create a Foldoscope for free, but for most people, it’s easier to just shell out for the pre-folded kit. Regardless, see how the devices are made in the video below:
[h/t Popular Science]