Make: Projects – Laser projection microscope
in-operation (Medium).jpg

A couple of weeks ago I posted about this sweet laser stunt from, and I finally got around to trying it for myself. My laser is only 10% as powerful as theirs, but I can now say with conviction: Everyone should try this.

The only tricky part is getting the laser and the hanging drop of water lined up and keeping them aligned, but this simple stand I built from hardware store odds-and-ends makes it easy. The laser and syringe snap into broom clips mounted on supermagnet bases which allow easy positional adjustments, but hold strongly enough to keep everything in alignment once you’ve got it right.


18 thoughts on “Make: Projects – Laser projection microscope

  1. Hey! This sounds very similar to something I was trying just last week. I made a Van Leeuwenhoek style microscope when I was in grade school from a couple sheets of soda can tin, some laboratory glass rod, and an alcohol burner. (See for the method). I remember reading about it in a science based periodical, but haven’t been able to find the article (probably mid 70’s – I think I made mine in 1979).

    Lately, I’ve been trying to make an actual replica, from brass. I’m at the stage now where I want to make a lens, and have been testing various lenses to see which are better than others. I glued a lens onto a spare sheet of brass with a hole drilled through it, and experimented viewing the cells in a leaf. You have to hold the lens right up to your eye to see it, so I found that an easier way to use it was by projecting the image on a wall with a powerful flashlight.

    It’s essentially the same method as shown in the article above, but I used a flashlight through a hole, instead of a laser pointer, and glass instead of water. The resulting image was very faint, but visible. Unfortunately, it was too faint to record with any camera I had on hand.

    I’ll have to retry it with a laser pointer and see if I can get pictures.

  2. Just fired mine up- your design with the magnets works brilliantly. I’ll throw some pictures in the Flickr pool tomorrow.
    BTW if people are looking for critters to swim in the drop,just get some water squeezed from an aquarium filter. it’s like a mini zoo!

    1. Rob-

      Sorry it took me so long to get ’round to this comment. I would love to see the pics from your own experiments. Did I miss them in the Flickr pool? You can always e-mail them to me directly, if you like, as well.


  3. Oops, sorry, I got a bit sidetracked, I had some photos, but wanted to redo them. It’s on the list for today!

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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