Portable Microscope Worth $2 Hailed For Its Ingenuity And Innovation Wins Golden Goose Award

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A young scientist who worked in Thailand’s jungles was awarded a national prize for his invention, a $2 portable paper microscope that can be taken on any type of field expedition.

This invention answers an issue that many researchers have dealt with on the field, that if a scientist should feel the need to study something up close at the microscopic level, and if they happen to be in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, can be a very difficult problem, which is why they’ll need one that’s easily lugged around.

Bioengineer from Stanford University, Many Prakash, could see that in his team’s $50,000 microscope was indeed a serious contradiction. Aside from being incredibly bulky, it was majorly challenging to bring around in remote locations. It also required training given by skilled technicians to know how to use it properly. Moreover, it also needed to be kept safe from weather issues and other environmental problems.

This is what prompted him to invent this new, cheap, portable one, which he called the Foldscope. This microscope not only costs a measly $1.75, it has a 140x zoom, small enough to see be able to see a malaria parasite inside a cell, for example. In addition, that zoom can even be enhanced if you just slide the lens of your smartphone over the lens of the Foldscope, ingenious really.

In an interview with CNN, Prakash shared, “I want to bring science into everyone’s hands, make it more personal. We have decoupled everyday life from the process of science.”

Since releasing this so-called ‘schoolhouse science,’ this foldable, portable microscope invention has sold over 1.6 million units, mostly to American schools but even serious scientists are using it as well. One such scientist is Dr. Kirti Nitnaware from India, who works on the isolation and characterization of bioactive metabolites in cyanobacteria.

She also sued the Foldscope last year to isolate a new species of cyanobacteria, and because of this and some other reasons, Prakash has actually been awarded the 2022 Golden Goose Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which happens to be the company of the popular scientific journal, Science.

Chief executive officer at AAAS, Sudip S. Parikh, said, “The Golden Goose Award reminds us that potential discoveries could be hidden in every corner and illustrates the benefits of investing in basic research to propel innovation.”

See more about this incredible invention in the video below:


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