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World Changing Innovations: Foldscope

examples of how Regent alumni, students, faculty and staff as well as other scholars around the world are creating ways to change the world for good.

The Foldscope Story

Foldscope was invented by Manu Prakash and Jim Cybulski while Jim was a PhD student in Manu's laboratory at Stanford University.

Their inspiration for the Foldscope originated from field visits around the world, where they continually encountered bulky, broken microscopes, or a lack of microscopes entirely. As traditional microscopes are often expensive or cumbersome, they realized the universal scale of this problem and the need for a low-cost, revolutionary solution.

What is the best microscope you can build for under $1 in parts? This question motivated their work. In the early days of the project, ideas for the low-cost microscope were sketched down on paper. These sketches struck a chord.  Although the sketching on paper was initially simply practical-- it also alluded to a critical revelation in the search for a low cost medium: paper. Paper is a brilliant  and versatile material, as it is both very inexpensive, but also gives rise to precision when it is folded into specific configurations.


The project blossomed into the invention of the Foldscope, the foldable microscope made mostly of paper, that to this day still achieves the goal of being less than one U.S. dollar in parts.

Foldscope: An Origami-Based Microscope

Foldscope is an ultra-affordable field microscope, that you build from common materials such as paper. It is designed to be produced affordably, to be durable, and to give optical quality similar to conventional research microscopes. With magnification of 140X and imaging resolution of 2 micron; Foldscope brings microscopy to new places. Be it your kitchen or a mountain top. Compatible with almost all camera phones.

Our Mission

We produce low-cost scientific tools to expand access to science. We aim to break down the price barrier between people and the curiosity and excitement of scientific exploration.

Our Community

Foldscope users around the world, of all ages, share their observations, ideas, and problems in an online space called the Microcosmos. We teach each other, we learn from each other and we all grow as scientist together.


Join the Foldscope Community to share your findings


The Event

Foldscope Assembly Tutorials