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Photo of gloved hand in lab with paper sensor
Breakthrough innovations for improving health

Origami inspires ingenious diagnostic tool

Imagine you are sick. You need a diagnosis.

Now imagine you live in a developing country rife with deadly infectious diseases and limited access to medical facilities. 

What if a tiny piece of folded paper could identify your illness? What if this device cost less than 10 cents? Imagine that.

University of Texas at Austin doctoral student Hong Liu did. He and Chemistry Professor Richard Crooks developed a 3-D paper sensor that works on the same principle as a home pregnancy test — but with more complex testing capabilities — and incorporates the Japanese paper-folding art of origami. The oPAD (origami Paper Analytical Device) can detect substances such as glucose and diseases such as malaria and HIV. And no lab is required. Just like with a home pregnancy test, you see the results on the paper.

The oPAD will be a life-changing — and potentially life-saving — innovation in developing countries. 


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