Novel low-cost tools for science, diagnostics, and education
- Scientific research and discovery have played a crucial role in the development of modern society. The technological innovations of the past few centuries offer multifarious benefits that many of us enjoy every day; yet, nearly half the world's population lives in poverty with inadequate resources to serve their basic needs. The methods, technologies, and tools engineered for the developed world often do not translate well as solutions for the idiosyncratic needs of developing regions. Accordingly, this thesis work aims to expand the impact of available funding by exploring the design space of "frugal science", or science practiced in a context of limited resources. My frugal innovations target simultaneous optimization of performance, cost, and scalability. The Foldscope, a $1 origami microscope, is one novel tool designed and built as part of this thesis work. This low-cost microscope is constructed from paper, uses ball-lens optics, can provide sub-micron resolution and over 2,000X magnification, and can be coupled to a smart phone for image capture. Foldscope can serve a range of applications, including medical diagnosis, field studies of biodiversity, and science education. Its design evolution is tied to a series of need-finding trips to developing regions -- including India, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, and Tanzania -- which helped me to survey relevant contextual nuances and make informed design decisions. Foldscope was rigorously bench-tested to explore limits in resolution compared to analytical models and to evaluate opportunities for design variations such as dark-field, fluorescence, polarization, and lens-matrix imaging. It was also subjected to hands-on testing at a number of educational workshops within the U.S. and abroad, which provided compelling insights regarding its potential contribution to science education. Additionally, Foldscope was evaluated in a diagnostic field study of Schistosomiasis haematobium in Ghana as a benchmark for its potential applications in this space. Finally, I explored scalability of the Foldscope through the "10,000 microscopes project", for which I adapted our manufacturing techniques to accommodate production of 50,000 units for distribution to 10,000 recipients around the globe. This also provided an ideal opportunity for exploring community development. Hence, I worked with other Prakash lab members and affiliates to develop online resources and content to serve and develop this burgeoning community of amateur microscopists. A second, low-cost microscope design was inspired by an alternative imaging modality -- projection microscopy -- that was originally prototyped on Foldscope. The tabletop projection microscope (TPM) projects a magnified real image of a specimen onto a viewing screen for natural viewing by one or more users without eyestrain. The TPM was designed as a $10 portable microscope which addresses challenges encountered during the diagnostic evaluation of Foldscope in Ghana. The TPM was bench-tested to compare empirical resolution to an analytical model, and it was successfully field tested in South Coast Kenya for diagnosis of Schistosomiasis haematobium and soil-transmitted helminthes in a study of 240 patients. An array of other low-cost systems were investigated as part of this thesis work. One example is low-cost optical systems with improved performance, which could offer benefits for medical diagnostic applications such as improved resolution and larger field of view. A second example is low-cost centrifuges and combined centrifuge-microscope systems. These provide an important opportunity for enabling independent field work with specimens that require sample concentration. Finally, I explored designs for portable low-cost electron microscopes which offer the potential to reach resolutions below that obtainable with light microscopes. Foldscope and the TPM are field-tested tools that embody the extreme tradeoffs in performance, cost, and scalability required to achieve global impact. As tokens of frugal innovation, improving their accessibility represents an important step towards transcending socioeconomic barriers to science, education, and healthcare. While no one can predict what outcomes will result, frugal science promises to provide solutions that define a new space in which science can be practiced and the unknown can be explored.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Cybulski, James S
|Stanford University, Department of Mechanical Engineering.
|Kenny, Thomas William
|Kenny, Thomas William
|Baer, Thomas, 1945-
|Baer, Thomas, 1945-
|Statement of responsibility
|James S. Cybulski.
|Submitted to the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2015.
- © 2015 by James Stanley Cybulski
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
Also listed in
Loading usage metrics...