Physics without borders

"Frugal Microscopies" Workshop

On 18th January 2020, the Physics without Borders commission organised a workshop in Paris on the manufacture of scientific equipment at a sustainable cost. The beginning of a project that will be extended.

On Saturday 18th January at the Espace des Sciences Pierre Gilles de Gennes of ESPCI, in Paris, for African PhD cadidates (Ivory Coast - Mali - Gabon) who were the main target, as well as for other interested people used to come to the Espace des Sciences (high school students, students, physics-chemistry teacher).

This workshop is the first in a series devoted to the development of experimental sciences through the training of trainers, an initiative we call "Experiment - Action" and which we want to deploy in African countries with low resources.

Training of trainers

The aim of these workshops is to raise awareness and train trainers in experimental methods and instrument design with original methods (including the hacking of technologies) allowing manufacturing at a sustainable cost.

The first step is the construction of a scientific instrument, in this case a "frugal" microscope, intended for educational activities. We thought about developing an instrument that could be replicated wherever a Fab-Lab is available and that could be built in a few hours at an affordable cost. The aim is to raise awareness among the African students' diaspora in France and also to organize training in different countries, if funding follows.

DVD player

This training was also an introduction to methods of manufacturing equipment at a sustainable cost, involving 3D printing, laser cutting, the use of web-cam as a detector and the use of an Arduino module to activate a step-by-step motor.

The basic element of the workshop, from which we derived many photonic elements and components, was the DVD player, which is an essential example to raise awareness about circular economy, as 95% is reusable. The webcam is also very important because it allows us to get a digital image.

We reused the lens from the optical part of the player to combine it with the camera of a smartphone and thus show that it is possible to turn a smartphone into a "microscope" at low cost.

We would like to thank the Espace des Sciences Pierre Gilles de Gennes of the ESPCI for allowing us to organize this workshop in their premises and for their logistical support. We thank the trainers, Arouna Darga (Lecturer, Sorbonne Université), Maxime Le Roy (Espace des Sciences), Valentin Métillon (Doctor of Physics, LKB).

Program to come

Other workshops will soon be organized with the following themes:

  • introduction to electronics (Expeyes modules - Georges Khaznadar);
  • elastic instabilities (José Bico);
  • free software (Jean Michel Friedt);
  • realization of solar panels with applications, characterization of solar cells (as a diode) (Arouna Darga);
  • spectrometry, smartphonics (teaching physics with smartphones) (Ulysse Delabre, Frédéric Bouquet );
  • etc.

François Piuzzi

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