In a paper published in ArXiv entitled Foldscope: Origami-based paper microscope, Manu Prakash (Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford) and colleagues detail an approach for creating low cost brightfield, darkfield, and fluorescence microscopes that could revolution field testing for infectious diseases. These inexpensive microscopes (less than one dollar each) could be printed by the thousands and could be widely used as a medical screening tool in the developing world.
“Here we describe an ultra-low-cost origami-based approach for large-scale manufacturing of microscopes, specifically demonstrating brightfield, darkfield, and fluorescence microscopes. Merging principles of optical design with origami enables high-volume fabrication of microscopes from 2D media. Flexure mechanisms created via folding enable a flat compact design. Structural loops in folded paper provide kinematic constraints as a means for passive self-alignment. This light, rugged instrument can survive harsh field conditions while providing a diversity of imaging capabilities, thus serving wide-ranging applications for cost-effective, portable microscopes in science and education.”
Link: arXiv:1403.1211 [physics.optics]
See Manu Prakash’s 2012 TED talk: A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami