How to Make a Microscope with a Laser Pointer

Microscopes are quite expensive. Even the simplest ones cost a good deal of money. So instead of buying these scientific gadgets and spending a lot of cash on them, why not set up one yourself at your very own home? With a few household items, you can construct a makeshift microscope and watch in amazement as your samples come to life, magnified hundreds of times with the power of your laser pointer!


  1. 1
    Gather the materials. You will essentially need:
    • A laser pointer
    • A sample of liquid (This microscope only works for sampling liquids.)
    • A skewer or cocktail stick
    • Two clamps
    • A few books (to level your microscope)
  2. 2
    Attach the skewer or cocktail stick to a clamp. If you don't have one, you can tape your stick on a flat level of books.
  3. 3
    Add the sample of liquid to the stick. You want to have a drop of the liquid suspended on the tip. This can be done by dipping the stick into the liquid, but since it's already clamped/taped up, this may be a difficulty. Instead, you can use a pipette if you have one, and drop the liquid directly onto the end of the stick.
    • If you know your liquid is highly contaminated, it's probably a good idea to wear gloves for the following steps. In addition, you should also have a cup under the stick in case any excess liquid you add drips over.
  4. 4
    Make sure your drop of liquid is faced to a blank wall. You will need a space for your microscope to "project" on, so a wall without pictures, windows, clocks, etc. is ideal. You just need to make sure that drop of liquid is facing the wall — the whole apparatus can be in any position, as long as it's not blocking the drop from facing the wall.
  5. 5
    Set up your laser pointer. This step isn't a necessity, but it makes the viewing of the microscope much easier. Attach the laser pointer to a clamp, making sure it's pointing to the droplet of liquid (and preferably to the middle of the wall).
    • If you don't have a clamp for your laser pointer, you can, as with the stick, tape your laser pointer on a level of books until it points to the droplet of liquid.
  6. 6
    Shine the laser! If the beam doesn't go through the suspended droplet, try adjusting your laser pointer's position. You should see a magnified projection on the wall, as the laser uses the liquid droplet as a lens to magnify everything. If your liquid is really dirty, then you may find the projection teeming with microscopic life! It might be surprising to find so much life concentrated in such a small droplet!
  7. 7
    Try experimenting with different liquids. For example, try using pond water, water from a drain, or water from a fish tank to see what kind of lifeforms exist in them. See if you can identify microscopic organisms, if there are any.
    • Remember, the microscope only works for liquids, so putting anything solid on the stick will not work.


  • This works best for liquids that are transparent.
  • For cleanup, dispose the sample of liquid and stick, and disinfect your apparatus if it has come in contact with the liquid. You can do this by applying some rubbing alcohol on them. You should also wash your hands with soap afterwards.
  • A laser of any color works. Try experimenting with different kinds and find the one that best suits you!
  • Solid samples, such as insects and leaves, will not work, unfortunately.


  • Never shine a laser pointer in someone's (or your) eye.
  • Do not use a strong laser pointer (one that can heat or even burn objects).
  • Know the precautions when dealing with samples that are highly contaminated (and can potentially endanger your health).

Things You'll Need

  • A laser pointer
  • A sample of liquid
  • A skewer or cocktail stick
  • Two clamps
  • A few books
  • Gloves (recommended)

Article Info

Categories: Science