The folks over at PrakashLab at Standford University have come up with an amazingly simple microscope design called the Foldscope, which could make microscopes feasible in even the most remote areas.
The Foldscope is an optical microscope that can be made out of paper and printed components, much like a piece of origami. It can magnify up to 2,000X, costs less than a dollar to manufacture, and can provide a sub-micron resolution of 800nm. It requires no external power, fits in a pocket, and could survive being dropped off the top of a 3 story building!
It takes advantage of new technologies that make it possible to print micro-optics, micro-electronics, micro-flexures, and even micro-fluidics. Just take a look at the following bill of materials and diagram explaining the mechanism.
The team is looking for 10,000 beta testers, and all you have to do is sign up and then with your Foldscope, develop a single page science experiment or protocol — the goal? To write an open-source, question-driven, biology and microscopy lab manual! Now that is cool.