There’s an unlimited number of things you can make from Lego. So far, we’ve seen working cameras, lenses, and camera sliders, and you can even build a microscope. That’s exactly what a group of researchers in Germany did. They turned an iPhone 5 camera module and some Lego bricks into an affordable microscope and ended up with some impressive results.
The idea behind this project was to make microscopes available to school children and students. “Microscopy is an essential tool in many fields of science,” the team writes in the paper. “However, because of costs and fragility, the usage of microscopes is limited in classroom settings and nearly absent at home.”
Enter Lego microscope. As I mentioned, the researchers used Lego bricks for the microscope body and the iPhone 5 camera module for the lens. So why this lens choice? “Such highly specialized plastic lenses of nonspherical shape have outstanding optical performance compared with glass or polymer beads,” the team writes. They are suitable for high-resolution microscopy, yet you can find them at a low price.
In addition to Lego bricks and the phone camera module, there’s also a small LED light for illuminating the sample. As for the ocular, that was made out of Lego as the rest of the microscope. There’s also an eyepiece – you put your camera onto it and adjust it to see the sample in the microscope.
“By basing the design on LEGO, we aim to make the microscope modular, cheap, and inspiring,” the researchers write. And indeed, I can hardly imagine anything more fun than using both Lego and a microscope in the same class. So, I hope that schools will recognize the value of this project and implement them in their curriculum. But even if not, you can still build your own Lego microscope so you and your little ones can have fun and learn at the same time. You’ll find everything you need here and here.