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Turns out you can turn old Blu-ray players into microscopes

Turns out you can turn old Blu-ray players into microscopes

#Turns #turn #Bluray #players #microscopes Welcome to InNewCL, here is the new story we have for you today:

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Optical microscopes typically achieve a maximum magnification of between 500x and 1,500x. At this point, you’ll need to switch to a scanning microscope to zoom in closer. They come with some functional compromises, and they don’t come cheap, often costing tens of thousands of dollars, unless you’re smart enough to convert the optics in an old Blu-ray drive into a surprisingly effective laser microscope.

In a way, CD-ROM and Blu-ray drives already work like microscopes, using lasers to read the microscopic dots on the surface of a CD or DVD. In the case of a Blu-Ray drive, an ultra-precise blue (technically more violet) laser with a wavelength of 405 nanometers is focused onto the surface of a disc and how effectively this light is reflected back onto the optics of the recording unit determines whether it gets a one or a a zero was detected.

But the sensors in the optical pickup unit can actually measure a wider range of light intensities — not just on or off — facilitating a Blu-ray drive’s error correction capabilities and allowing the hardware to be reused for other purposes.

DIY Blu-Ray Laser Scanning Microscope Part 2: Taking Pictures

YouTube’s Doctor Volt has repurposed a Blu-ray drive, now easy to find in the age of streaming content, to build a simple scanning laser microscope. A few specially designed and manufactured plastic pieces were added to the mix to create a scan bed for a sample that could move back and forth in one direction while the laser itself moved back and forth in the other.

Unlike an optical microscope, which images the entire object at once, a scanning laser microscope takes light intensity measurements in increments by moving in a raster over an object, assembling a magnified image pixel by pixel. In this case, given the limitations of the Blu-ray drive’s spindle, which moves the viewed sample back and forth, the image is composed of 16,129 measurements (a 127 x 127 grid) and then upscaled to a 512 x 512 image.

A browser-based user interface written in Java makes it possible to change the microscope’s focus settings and scan speed, but at the slowest possible speed the results are surprisingly good and recognizable. Certainly not comparable to what you’d get from lab equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars, but for a repurposed Blu-ray drive you could get on eBay for less than $20, this is an impressive hack.

Just be careful around these lasers.

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