Man-made vs. Natural: fabric and flower petal Bio60_2018

Hello everyone! Today, I wanted to compare man-made materials and natural materials under my Foldscope. My hypothesis was that man-made materials would tend to be regular and homogenous because regular, even patterns in fabrics, for example, are often a design goal. I further hypothesized that natural materials, however, would have more organic forms and might often seem less “perfect.” I was wondering if this pattern observed at the macroscopic level would hold true under the Foldscope.

To explore my theory, I collected some samples of natural and man-made materials. Ultimately, I decided to compare an orchid petal with a piece of shimmery red fabric because both were at least translucent.

Methods: I used a dry mount for each sample. I decided to try combining one of the glass slides with the reusable plastic coverslip. I secured the ends with tape. I found this to be an effective method for mounting these types of samples. In order to take the images, I taped one of the magnets to the camera of my phone and placed the Foldscope above it. Then, I put the phone on the edge of the table and weighed it down so that I could use my hands to backlight the Foldscope with the provided flashlight. I think this technique was effective for these purposes.

Results: Here are some pictures from each of my samples.

Orchid Petal:


Here’s a video of the fabric:


Conclusion: I ended up finding more imperfections in the fabric at the microscopic level than I had expected. I also realized that the pattern of the cells in the flower was quite regular and precise. Perhaps there was less of a difference between the man-made material and the natural than I had thought.   

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