The $1 Microscope
Manu Prakash and his colleagues from Stanford University have invented a foldable microscope–called a Foldscope–that can be made for less than a dollar and has the potential to bring the power of microscopy to people who have never used a microscope before..
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.”
“Working with Kikim Media to document our global community effort with the Foldscope was a remarkable experience. The team brought so many innovative ideas to the table about how to truly tell the story that captures our community and the work we do. It’s so much fun to work with a creative team that gets the story from day one.”
-Manu Prakash, Principal Investigator, Foldscope