How to Take Stunning Microscopic Images–Without a Microscope

By Veronique Greenwood | August 16, 2011 8:15 am

  • Jabjabs

    Very cool indeed, always loved photo’s of the finer details in the world.

  • Scott

    Where is the “how”?

    Ahhh… There it is. Didn’t show On my screen before I commented. Very cool.

  • Pauline

    Wow, I want one! And I would think every law enforcement department in the country wants one too – what a great tool for recording fingerprints.

  • JKJ

    Nice pics, where is the text?

  • Stephen

    Very cool!

  • John Lerch

    Of course it depends on which person we’re coating in silver lycra as to whether we want every curve to be clear or not.

  • bob mcbob

    I see just the pics.

    Now that I’ve commented, I can see the story.

  • Daniel Oliveira

    Comment first, read story later. That’s a great strategy 😉

  • Derek Stockhall

    Sounds intriguing. I have a keen interest in all innovative ideas in science.

  • Thopter

    The youtube video on the third image really clears things up

  • Keith

    Trying to see the story!

  • mike

    Very cool stuff.

  • ncoffin

    Commenting to see the article. But while I’m here, I’d just like to thank you for all the excellent writing you’ve done. I’ve been a reader for what seems like a long time now, and I’ve always enjoyed your work.

  • High


  • bala

    you must be kidding me

  • Matthew

    I love science

  • See.o.r.e.why

    Can see article, only pictures. Very awesome stuff though!

  • Scribble

    Commenting to see the article… (the pics are incredible, btw)

  • CaitastropheGee

    Commenting for article?

  • hm


  • Hh

    Fuvking hate mobile versions of websites. Can it.

  • Grewr

    Peanut trees leek

  • M


  • hello


  • goosarino

    Correct horse staple battery

  • mousspouss


  • Tuesday

    How about a picture of the device itself?

  • JZ


  • Tony

    Cool pix

  • lamanga2004

    Bingo bango bongo

  • Trent

    Just want to read the article

  • majikthijs

    hope the text is worth having to type the comment on my iphone

  • Annoying

    Why can’t I just read the article? How annoying is that?

  • Annoying

    To save time for others, here’s the text of the article:

    To see the world on the microscopic level, you usually need, well, microscopes. But with sensitive cameras and a gel that deforms around even the ink on a printed page, a team at MIT has developed a compact, portable equivalent. A device about the size of a soda can, it can register objects as small as two micrometers across.
    A little pad of gel, coated on one side with metallic paint, is at the center of the device. When pressed against a finger, a dollar bill, or a Post-It, the paint on the gel gently bends to fit the form of the object. Cameras arrayed above the gel snap images of the pattern imprinted in the paint, and computer vision algorithms reconstruct the surface in 3D. The result is beautifully detailed imagesof such objects as the individual barbules of a feather, shown above.

  • Veronique Greenwood

    Everyone’s who is having trouble seeing the text appears to be coming from the same IP address. Can you guys let me know here in the comments what browser you’re using?

  • bob mcbob

    opera mobile. I have heard opera was proxied through their servers, so I guess that explains the same IP address.

  • Veronique Greenwood

    Hey folks–it seems that people were indeed having difficulty seeing the gallery’s text on their phones, but we’ve fixed the problem now. Thanks for telling us about it, and do let us know if anything else crops up. Happy browsing!

  • Jiri Polivka

    As a small boy I saw a ~1942 journal for tinkerers. It described an easy-to-make microscope with a lens made of a water drop. The design comprised a metal strip anchored on a side of a wooden board with a large ~2″ hole in it. The other flat side of the metal strip was held above the hole with a screw and a nut. Next to the screw, in the metal strip there was a ~0.1″ hole. With a grease applied on this hole circumference, a water drop hung down against the 2″ hole in the wooden board. Across the large hole one can put a glass sample carrier, light entering from below e.g. by a mirror. Look into the drop from above- and it magnified ~100x!
    The cost was zero, but this contraption allowed me to use a powerful microscope in looking at microbes in water, tiny components of vacuum tubes (after breaking the bulb), insects, butterflies and many more fascinating micro-objects.
    My later better and more expensive microscopes gave me less fascination than this self-made toy. Recommended to anyone!

  • Harsh

    cool..really cool :)

  • Ken

    How odd that there’s no way to see the content without commenting.

  • Raju


  • Florencia Goldmann

    I wanna see


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