The $1 Microscope
Prakash’s dream is that Foldscopes will someday be distributed widely to detect dangerous blood-borne diseases like malaria, African sleeping sickness, schistosomiasis and Chagas. “I wanted to make the best possible disease-detection instrument that we could almost distribute for free,” he says. “What came out of this project is what we call use-and-throw microscopy.”
Prakash’s lab has already shipped 50,000 Foldscopes to users in 135 countries. Now he plans to get a million microscopes in hands of kids around the world. The Foldscope can be assembled in minutes, includes no mechanical moving parts, is extremely rugged and can be incinerated after use to safely dispose of infectious biological samples. With minor design modifications, it can be used for bright-field, multi-fluorescence or projection microscopy.
“Many children around the world, even in developed countries like the United States, have never used a microscope,” said Prakash. “A universal program providing a microscope for every child could foster deep interest in science at an early age.”
-Manu Prakash, Principal Investigator, Foldscope