And this innovation’s key attributes are:
– ultralow-cost (20 cents)
– lightweight (2 grams)
– human-powered paper centrifuge (named ‘paperfuge’) designed on the basis of a theoretical model inspired by the fundamental mechanics of an ancient whirligig
– open up opportunities for point-of-care diagnostics in resource-poor settings.
Inspired by a whirligig toy, Stanford bioengineers have developed an ultra-low-cost, human-powered blood centrifuge. With rotational speeds of up to 125,000 revolutions per minute, the device separates blood plasma from red cells in 1.5 minutes, no electricity required. A centrifuge is critical for detecting diseases such as malaria, African sleeping sickness, HIV and tuberculosis. This low-cost version will enable precise diagnosis and treatment in the poor, off-the-grid regions where these diseases are most prevalent.
According to his bio on MacArthur Foundations’s website:
Prakash has channeled his ingenuity to invent several devices that empower frugal science: these are low-cost, widely accessible, and appropriate for use in low-resource and field settings. Foldscope, a lightweight optical microscope that costs less than a dollar to produce, is assembled from an origami-based folding design from a single sheet of paper with integrated lenses and electronics. With submicron resolution, Foldscope has already been widely embraced in educational contexts.
Another recent project is a low-cost, sticker-like microfluidic chip that can collect thousands of nanoliter-volume droplets of saliva from mosquito bites that can be screened for pathogens. The chip would enable rapid, scalable, and low-cost collection of surveillance data that is critical for predicting and controlling mosquito-borne disease outbreaks. With remarkable breadth and imagination, Prakash defies traditional disciplinary boundaries in his coupling of basic research and fabrication of high-capability scientific instruments for widespread use in the field and classroom.