Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope

By Attila Nagy on at

These stunning macro photos, known as micrographs, captured by Dutch photographer Maurice Mikkers are going to show you a whole new world.

I have to admit, I have never thought about what tablets and pills look like under microscope. But Maurice Mikkers (who is a licensed Medical Laboratory Analyst by the way) had a lot of unanswered questions and wanted to capture drugs' crystal structures for himself. And the results of his curiosity are truly amazing.

You can read about the whole work process in this detailed Vantage article:

Each prospective sample is crushed to powder in mortar and pestle and weighed out in uniform measurements. The powder is increasingly diluted to afford a wide selection of material to shoot. Applying heat speeds up the evaporation process and seems to yield more aesthetically appealing crystals, but slides still air dry under Mikkers’ scrutiny. Favored results are duplicated to create an experiment group.

After calibrating both the camera and the microscope Mikkers fires off frames at different ISO and speeds, adjusting the angle of the slide for different perspectives on the crystalline structures. Once satisfied, he shoots in HDR a comprehensive grid of the entire sample. The images are stitched together later in digital post production.

Throughout, the entire workflow, Mikkers adheres to something akin to rigorous scientific method — samples are tracked in Excel. Meticulous notes are kept. Control groups are maintained. Like all good science, he wants to be able to repeat the process and, hopefully, the results.

Potassium Bitartrate (Cream of Tartar)

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


Diclofenac

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


Amphetamine

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


2C-B

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


Diltiazem

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


Birth control pill

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


Vitamin C

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


Ciprofloxacin

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


N,N-Dimethyltryptamine

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


Dipyridamole

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


Acetaminophen

Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope


All images by Maurice Mikkers, republished here with permission. You can follow his work on Flickr, Instagram, Vimeo, Behance or Twitter.