Mangaluru: Foldscope, a unique microscope for everyone

Media Release

Mangaluru, May 15: Unbelievable but true! ‘Foldscope’, the paper microscope is powerful enough to see even the smallest of bacteria. This is a microscope in a paper folding. Hardly anyone among the commoners has his or her own microscope. Big, bulky and sturdy microscopes are confined only to schools, colleges and institutes of repute. Since these microscopes are expensive and limited to the laboratory, students never tried them to observe anything other than the activities mentioned in their curriculum. Hence, to explore the microscopic world by each and every one, Dr Manu Prakash, Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University, has developed an origami-based, user-friendly, light weight, pocketsize, durable and affordable paper microscope. Initially it came as one Dollar Microscope. In India, Foldscope may cost around Rs 500.

Department of Biotechnolog (DBT), New Delhi, has introduced the Foldscopes for the researchers as a part of the Indo-US DBT Foldscope project. More than 200 projects are sanctioned to the individuals, schools, colleges, universities and institutes to use this foldscope to study all kind of samples in their respective fields. Researchers are using it to study the microbial world in the water, food, antibiotics, silkworm, mosquito breeding in water, plaque microbes, Soil micro-flora, protozal, helminthic diseases, air pollutants, plant, animal and insect diseases. Foldscope is also used to study agricultural, dental, medical, horticulture and veterinary issues. Though foldscope looks simple, its functions are amazing as it can be used to study the issues in diverse fields, giving solutions to the day to day problems.

Using the camera of mobile phones, Foldscope can be used in multitudes. It can magnify the curiosity with better view. Foldscopes are available online at One can buy Foldscope on Amazon shopping site and at Fundolab of Ahmedabad. There are two types of Foldscope models. For beginners, a basic model is good. Once a person is tuned up with this Foldscope, he or she can purchase an advanced deluxe model with accessories as kit. All the biology experiments of school can be easily studied using Foldscope. Being cost effective, it is easily affordable. Across the globe through various workshops, Foldscope is widely used among students and children to explore the world under lens.

Using this Foldscope, Dr Bharathi Prakash is working on the ‘Public participation in mitigating the water-borne diseases in tribal areas of Dakshina Kannada’, where water samples from the tribal region of Dakshina Kannada district is collected and studied. With the help of Foldscope, Vanishree Shenoy, a junior research fellow, working with the project is analysing these water samples in the Microbiology laboratory of the college. The Foldscope being very frugal and handy, can be used in the field to study all kind of things.

Under each project, all over the country, many Foldscope workshops were conducted. This awareness has brought tremendous curiosity for science among student folk. In every workshop, students were so happy to use this microscope and to observe small things, zoomed big, like insects, worms, mosquitoes, ants, flowers petals, food, sand, soil, roots, nails, hair, skin scrapings, dandruff flakes, onion peel, fungus on the bread, tiny worms in fruits and vegetables etc. The beneficiaries of the workshop were awestruck, when they observed things using Foldscopes. It was a contented feeling to see the thirst of exploration getting quenched in budding scientists. This Foldscope is useful for a wide range of people, right from a primary school kid to a researcher. Many students who used Foldscope and studied things, were so glad that they said Dr Manu Prakash can aptly be called as the ‘Father of Modern Microscopy’.

During the vacation children can try using Foldscope and discover their own world under the lens. Foldscope is a wonderful thing to gift to anyone as a toy microscope. Foldscope, being cost-effective, has reached many parts of the world and each one is using it in their unique way. An innovative discovery by Dr Manu Prakash has brought scientific temper in every user. The contribution of DBT, New Delhi, Dr Manu Prakash and his team of Prakash Lab, to popularize science, is astonishing. This foldscope should reach to every curious buddy to ignite the interest in science.



Title : Mangaluru: Foldscope, a unique microscope for everyone


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