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Developing a DIY Microscope with Many Functionalities

Using a modular, 3D-printed, Do-It-Yourself microscope platform students were able to learn and enhance the optics of microscopes to achieve better and better images for specific functions.


Zoe Grier, Maria Francesca Soddu, Sharlene Odame, Naomi Kenyatta


Francesca Anselmi, Rob Frawley

Project Period:



Harlem, LES

Microscopes are among the most versatile and powerful scientific instruments. Their introduction in the 16th century led to an explosion of scientific progress, including the discovery of biological cells and the associated realization that the world is full of organisms and processes that are too small to see by eye. Conventional light microscopy has been overshadowed by the development of techniques with ever finer resolution, including electron microscopy and x-ray microscopy. Recently, however, scientists have developed new approaches to light microscopy that greatly extend its reach.

The purpose of this project is to address the need for affordable and flexible instruments for advanced microscopy by developing a modular open-source microscope made with 3D printed parts. The project’s joint goals are to make microscopy affordable for science classrooms around the world, and to develop a hackable platform for scientific research. The DIY microscope is affordable enough to be deployed in historically underserved communities. Its open design and construction provide students with a hands-on experience of optics that supports the classroom learning experience.

This page was originally developed by BioBus Summer 2021 Jr. Scientist William Rhee.

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