Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope

These stunning macro photos–micrographs–captured by Dutch photographer Maurice Mikkers are going to show you a whole new world, which still seems familiar on many levels.

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I have to admit, I have never thought about how tablets and pills look like if we take samples of them and put them under microscope. But Maurice Mikkers–a licensed Medical Laboratory Analyst by the way–had a lot of unanswered questions and wanted to see and capture the crystal structures of pill agents by 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 stiched 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.

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What amazes me is that I feel I have seen the following images many times. Stellar clouds, galaxies, diatoms, snowflakes, aerial photos of our planet and crystal LSD? All the same.

Potassium bitartrate

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope

Diclofenac

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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Amphetamine

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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2C-B

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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Diltiazem

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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Birth control pill

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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Vitamin C

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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Ciprofloxacin

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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N,N-Dimethyltryptamine

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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Dipyridamole

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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Lysergic acid diethylamide

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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Acetaminophen

Illustration for article titled Narcotics and Medicines Look Beautiful Under a Microscope
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All images by Maurice Mikkers, republished here with permission. You can follow his work on Flickr, Instagram, Vimeo, Behance or Twitter.

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