This proposal is rooted in leveraging diverse scientific fields, creating a new approach for large-scale roll-to-roll manufacturing of optical instruments for a global need of optical instruments in biosciences. This research is transformative because it will create, for the first time, the ability to mass manufacture optical instruments in a scalable and cost effective approach. This methodology of monolithic fabrication of optical instruments is unique and has significant implications in field microscopy, low-cost disease diagnostics, environmental field biology and climate monitoring. The educational and outreach component of this project includes K-12 education, international outreach in India and Thailand, and mentoring of high school and undergraduate students.
The central objective is to develop a new fabrication process for engineering low-cost optical components and new assembly protocol for engineer miniature imaging devices with high throughput and low cost. This l involves printing-based microfabrication and paper folding (like in origami) for components assembling. The research plan is based on the PI's work in origami optics, where low cost microscopes can be fabricated by folding cardboard and installing low cost plastic lenses. This is an exciting and compelling new direction for building microscopes with significant potential for impacting the developing world. The research here seeks to leverage this design to improve manufacturing processes. The approach for rapid prototyping of lenses is very innovative and if lenses of sufficient quality can be produced, this could have substantial impact.
This award is co-funded by the Biophotonics program (CBET) in the Engineering Directorate and the IDBR program (Instrument Development for Biological Research) in the BIO Directorate.