It’s amazing what you can create with Lego. Yes, there are all sorts of wonderful sets you can buy but fans also just get creative with it. Sometimes you get a full Top Gun trailer made from Lego, other times you get functioning scientific equipment.
That’s the newest innovation we’ve seen using the iconic Danish brick toy — a working high-resolution microscope, built entirely using Lego — okay, and some smartphone components. The toy-maker doesn’t offer up many high-resolution lenses as part of its kits, after all.
Lego your ideas of expensive gear
Researchers at the Universities of Göttingen and Münster constructed “…a fully functional, high-resolution microscope with capabilities close to a modern research microscope”, designed to be built and used by kids aged 9 to 13. They went on to detail their findings on The Biophysicist, an online scientific journal.
The build uses a little under 290 Lego pieces as well as objective lenses — the only parts not made of a very specific sort of plastic. The high-magnification objective lens is a plastic component borrowed from a replacement iPhone 5 camera module, while the low-magnification objective lens is a similarly low-cost glass lens. The whole construct is able to “…resolve even individual cells,” according to its creators.
Professor Timo Betz, of the University of Göttingen, said, “We hope that this modular microscope will be used in classrooms and homes all over the world to excite and inspire children about science. We have shown that scientific research does not need to be separate from everyday life. It can be enlightening, educational and fun!”
Want to try and build your own high-end microscope? The researchers have posted their plans for free on GitHub, in a couple of languages, so you can give it a try for yourself. Once you source all the parts, of course.