How to Make a Microscope From Scratch


previously I explored making eyeglasses

and correcting my vision to see clearly

for my next project I'm gonna go to the

next step in the evolution of optics

allow myself to see beyond human sight

to see the unseen it make a microscope

invention the microscope helped

revolutionize science and led to the

discovery of microorganisms and germ

theory which has helped save countless


for some assistance making my microscope

I sought the advice of max at full scope

full scope was invented as a cheap and

affordable option for microscopes made

mostly out of paper

that cost less than a dollar to produce

it allows you to view at a hundred and

forty times magnification making it

possible to see bacteria in cells hi max

thanks for talking to me so for my next

project I'm looking to make a microscope

from scratch they're too large or

expensive microscope you can only see in

a class in the lab you guys went with a

different format with your full scope

can you tell me about that the idea

behind a microscope is really simple

which is when light hits a boundary say

between air and glass it bends and you

can use this property to take a small

image and make it much larger so most

research microscopes you see are complex

microscopes which use a series of lenses

to provide magnification and correct for

aberrations but you can get away with a

simpler strategy which is actually just

to use one very small spherical lens and

this is called a simple microscope and

so the smaller the lens the sharper

light is bent when it crosses the

boundary between air and glass and the

more magnification you get so for

instance with full scope is 2.38

millimeters in diameter and it provides

140 X magnification and so these simple

microscopes are actually really similar

to microscopes that were made by a Dutch

Draper named Antony von LAN

back in the 17th century but Finley and

Hooke used the same principle as us

which is actually to use just a simple

small lens so Antony van Leeuwenhoek

actually discovered many microorganisms

just by looking at pond water using his

simple microscope and just kind of

considered a sort of founder of

microbiology so what exactly goes into

making a microscope like yours if you

think about it there's not too many

things you need to do right you need to

be able to hold a sample in place and

provide magnification with that webs but

then most of the other functions besides

the lens can be provided by paper and so

we use a folded sheet of paper to hold

the lens and hold the slide and then to

align the two and it turns out that

paper if you think about you can

actually get very reproducibly precise


of that and then the other important

thing is to be able to adjust the focus

by changing the distance between the

lens and whatever sample you have and

one way we do at the full scope is to

have the lens attached to a piece of

paper that flexes and so you can use

your thumbs to actually stretch or pull

this piece of paper with the lens and

that's how you can focus that's really

amazing I think a design like yours

would work really well for my project

awesome yeah well if you'd like we can

send you a sample of the full scope if

you'd like to use that as a template

yeah it'd be really great thanks for

your help again yeah of course my

pleasure good luck with everything

thanks to max advice and now have an

idea of what I need to do to make my

microscope but first I need to overcome

the problems I had last time when I made

my glass from scratch which resulted in

less than clear glass the key three

ingredients I used for glass last time

were sand limestone and potash one of

the issues with my first attempt at

glass was a likely impurities of my

ingredients pure potash is a white

powder the stuff I had last time was

more grey green in color so I needed to

give this a second try once again I used

hard wood ashes to extract the potash

from over rather than burning a ton of

wood this time just for the ashes I work

with a nearby restaurant Doolittle's

wood fire grill who was able to provide

me with a large supply of the leftover

ashes same as last time I'll soak the

ashes in water

and evaporate the potash from the water

solution over this time to reduce any

chance of other stray chemicals that

might get concentrated from the tap

water I used only distilled water


once soaks I use a strainer to move the

charcoal and other trash that floated on

the surface




then I let the sediments settle to the

bottom import the remaining liquid into

a pot through a cloth to strain out any

remaining charcoal or other debris then

over the course of several hours oil the

liquid down


unlike last time I love the solution sit

overnight again and separate once more

on the surface was a nearly completely

clear liquid that he then fully

evaporated and crystallized then

grinding up this final results had a

much more promising batch of product


another impurity that affected my last

batch of glass was trace amounts of iron

in the sand that I collected this

resulted in a bluish tint to my glass

this time I tried using a strong magnet

to extract any trace iron after several

passes through I was able to extract a

surprisingly decent about the magnetic

debris which I think I'll save for a

future project now knowing they can

extract iron this way it's very likely

you'll be seeing this again in a future


instead of using live stone this time I

thought I'd try a different source of

the same chemical eggs I've collected a

variety of different eggs so far in my

quest and all bird eggs are at least the

95 percent calcium carbonate that I'm

after so I thought I'd give this source

a try


with new more purer sources for all of

my ingredients it's time to melt them

into glass seriously I was able to work

with a glass floor Michael unfortunately

his schedule was too packed let us use

his kiln again and no other glass

blowers that we reached out to was

willing to let us use theirs so we were

forced to go a little lower tech and

Michael lent us the equipment to build

our own makeshift kiln

using a bunch of ceramic Rick's and a

propane torch we were able to get

something that should hopefully work

after waiting a few hours for the kiln

to get to the right temperature I mixed

together the three ingredients and added

it to the kill after a while the glass

started to melt and turn into a thick

liquid one thing we noted from my first

attempt was that the glass lower in the

crucible was actually a lot clearer than

the top portion that we poured from we

suspected this is because of potash sunk

to the bottom to counteract this we made

sure to mix a glass periodically with

all the improvements to my ingredients

and knowing to mix it now I was feeling

pretty optimistic about this attempt

after going for over 10 hours and gain

late into the night it looked like we

were getting very close

I attempted to pull a strand of glass to

make a lens from should I then let cool

overnight before the next step the next

step to actually making my microscope

lens is to pull a thin strand of glass

and then melt it into a bead to practice

I use some glass rods heating them to

their melting point under a propane

torch I pulled them until they're super

thin and then broke off one end and I

heated that end until it started to form

a bead the surface tension the glass

helps it deform it to a sphere and then

once it's reached the desired size I

remove it from the flame and snap it off


I have to be careful though because if

it goes flying there's no way I'll be

able to find it after several attempts

and a few different sized lenses I gave

the glass that I actually made a shot




with a few different options for lenses

now I just need to make the body of the

microscope things of old school I know

the paper can make a great body

it just happened who have already made

when I previously attempted to make a

book from scratch to make this cotton

paper I travel though cotton farm in

Texas where I hand-picked my own cotton

then I use a gin to remove the seeds

from the rest of the fiber the fiber was

then ran through a beater machine to

break it up into smaller bits it was

placed into a tub of water and a mold is

pulled through it forming the sheet of

paper lastly it's pressed in a vise and

then hung to dry things heal example of

old scope sent me I'm able to use it as

a pattern to make mine


now I just need to put everything

together and try it with my actual glass

so yeah that's that's completely opaque

so in the end this attempt to making

glass was not any more successful than

my last unfortunately the biggest

culprit I suspect for this one was the

kiln itself I think if we could have

baked it hotter and for longer we would

have gotten much better result over now

it's developed a yellow tint which I'm

not sure why this happened but there's a

chance it might be from trace amounts of

sulfur in the eggshells which can cause

a yellow tinted glass so despite all

this I still haven't managed to make

good glass for optics however with the

glass rods I was actually able to make

pretty good lenses okay actually works

pretty good I can definitely see like

Paramecium Wow I worked a lot better

than I thought it would and actually see

the Paramecium in the slide which the

Paramecium is the original maker

organism that Leeuwenhoek actually

discovered and was able to create the

theory of microorganisms from so well

the glass was yet another failure I did

manage to make an actual working

microscope and that self I think is a

pretty cool fact that I was able to make

something I can see a hole in visible

world with so give me your best

suggestions in the comments and next

week I'll do a follow-up video or

explore what all I can see with this


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