Scientist Builds World’s First Lego Microscope

by Sai Vardhan

Scientist Builds World’s First Lego Microscope

July 6, 2021

Lego building is fun, but ever wondered what else can be made of legos? Well, someone managed to build a microscope with legos, and it is as amazing as it sounds.

Professor Timo Betz works as a biophysicist at the University of Göttingen in Germany. He is a well-known researcher. His name is attached to many researches. The list is enormous and often confusing for a typical user. Then why, you may ask he found the need to build a simple microscope built out of legos?

The reason is pretty simple: Because it’s not for him. It’s for whoever prefers to assemble one.


How to Build The Lego Microscope?

If you have all the parts and are good at building Legos, it can be achieved in 30 minutes and if you are new at building legos, it might take up an hour or more depending upon skills, as per Betz.

Also, Betz states that there are some troublesome portions regarding the focus adjustment. In this quality regime, the builder needs to shift the lens to a fraction of the diameter of a hair. That is difficult to attain with Lego, but a worm hustle can do the job. However, the tolerance takes time to build. Still, he feels that teenagers and kids could do it better than adults.

Microscopy is significant for many domains in science and medicine. And not everyone has an access to this tool. The objective of Betz’s endeavor, carried out by students from both the Universities of Göttingen and Münster, was to create a high-resolution microscope out of a nonentity; more professional than some kids with plastic building bricks and portions from a mobile phone. While making this, kids and adults can also enrich their knowledge of how a microscope works.

The Inspiration for The Lego Microscope

“My son, Emil, and I were sitting together playing Lego on a weekend, Betz proceeded.

I decided to develop a lecture for school kids to introduce them to my work in the biophysics lab, focusing on cell mechanics, so I implored him and asked him what he thinks is fascinating for children his age. He said to me that he genuinely likes the microscopes we have in the lab, and unexpectedly there was the idea of having a microscope built from Lego. My first response was that this is too difficult because of the detailed movements and all the portions that are non-Lego. But he appeared with a row of great ideas on how to subdue the problems that I said to him.”

IMG 3560


The only parts of the microscope that’s not made with Legos are the optics, which come from the lenses used in different smartphone cameras, selling for just a few bucks on multiple platforms.

After engulfing a camera-replacement module to get to the lens, I was surprised cause I could see elements on fixed enclosures that were used to discerning the high-end microscopes we utilize in the lab with a four euro ($4.70) lens. This high quality lies in the need for camera lenses in smartphones to have a flat module. This leads to reasonably high numerical apertures about 0.5 in the used lens, and that, in turn, enacts the determination. Also, the lenses already exist for the spherical and chromatic anomaly, which is just what we expected. I was impressed by the quality of these plastic lenses.

As stated, Betz isn’t saving his microscope to himself, either. The instructions for building one are accessible on Github. Also, the paper is being published illustrating the work that was also previously circulated in the journal, The Biophysicist 2021.

If you’ve already tried out your existing Lego exhibitions or are looking for a new challenge with a real-world application, this could be the undertaking for you! Do let us know how do you like it.


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