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Foldscope workshops excites students & scientists

A series of workshops and talks to popularise the origami paper microscope costing 50 cents developed by Stanford University based Prakash Lab, popularly called Foldscope workshops were held at different locations in India. The India-Prakash Lab Stanford Foldscope training camp was held between 16th to 21st December at Delhi, Guwahati and Kaziranga National Park.The foldscope was used as an educational and training tool to help students understand physics, chemistry, biology and instrumentation and to excite them in the subjects. The invention of microscope needless to say has changed the course of scientific research. Taking microscope technology further is the foldscopes. The new paper based microscope, created from simple paper and lens can be easily created at home and it offers wide scope of studying pathogens and water samples and diagnosing diseases.

Microscopes of various types are used by researches to view tiny objects invisible to naked eyes. But the conventional microscopes are expensive, making them unaffordable for many and bulky, making them difficult to be carried around. But foldscope which is affordable and can also be built by students themselves has made the technology accesible. It can also be carried around by the students. It is time for the foldscopes developed by Indian origin researcher Dr. Manu Prakash working at the Stanford University Foldscope created from paper is a revolutionary new idea.

“We need people to be excited about science in most of the time we say go read this, go read that. You watch TV and you think you learn, you do not learn that way unless you do it yourself and so one of the challenges for us to make something that will be cheap enough but at the same time you have the experience of using a microscope”, said Dr Manu Prakash, Assistant Professor at Stanford University, speaking at a workshop in Delhi.

The workshopconducted at Venketashwara College, Delhi as part of the agreement between Department of Biotechnology and developer Prakash Lab saw enthusiatic participation of students and scientists.

Mobile foldscope holds a huge potential for application in various areas of research. It also can encourage students interest in the subject of micro-biology and related research. The affordable foldscope technology makes use of paper and small magnification lenses to imitate the working of large scientific microscopes. Foldscopes, a cheaper alternative to microscope besides being waterproof comes with a 2000x magnificaton lens with one sub-micron resolution which unables he visualisation of the tinest organisms like bacteria.

Foldscopes which can be used to test water samples to detect infectious agents and also diagnose some common disorders can also be fitted with LED light source for better resolution. Fast gaining popularity this innovation is likely to prove to be of much help in scientific training and research in the coming years.