This DIY Lego Microscope Results in Massive Savings

Matthew/Open Optics

As a kid, I was pretty certain that you could build basically anything from Lego bricks. I was never much of a Lego engineer myself, but after one trip to Legoland in San Diego, I was convinced that tile and hardwood floors would be things of the past once they figured out how to make Lego bricks less painful to step on.

One PhD student named Matthew seems to have grown up with a similar belief, and created a Brewster angle microscope (BAM) out of Lego bricks. Matthew describes the Brewster's angle as “the angle at which light of a certain polarisation won’t reflect off a surface.” Setting up a camera and light source exactly 53.1 degrees over a tank of water lets you make a very specific and useful series of observations.

Matthew needed the microscope to collect data in order to complete his PhD studies, as Hack a Day noted . Unfortunately, a typical BAM can cost anywhere from £20,000 to £75,000 (about $26,000 to $97,000), and as a student, Matthew had a budget of £0 (about...well... $0).

After a disappointing first edition of a homemade BAM, Matthew built the second generation of his DIY microscope from Lego bricks. The high tolerance of the plastic pieces and the addition of movable motors and gears gave him the precision he needed to observe the necessary materials more accurately. He is currently working on a third microscope that will vastly improve upon the first two models.

Be sure to learn more about this project over at Open Optics.

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