Caffeine

“World’s most addictive and widely used drug”

Almost everyone is familiar with caffeine, and most of us have taken it with or without knowing it. Foods containing caffeine often go unrecognised, making the task of limiting intake of the stimulant challenging. But have you ever wondered about how caffeine would look underneath a microscope? Of course your question at the time taking for example your cup of coffee would have been “will it help me through the day?”

Generally, most people assume that hard drugs like cocaine and heroin are the most addictive of their kind when in fact, they aren’t. While the addictive properties in these drugs are intense, potency isn’t the only factor that plays into addiction; availability and frequency of use are important too.

When caffeine enters the brain, it affects nerve centers that are responsible for neurological reward systems. In essence, caffeine makes you feel good and the releasing of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex of your mind reinforces the behaviour, consequently making you want to do it again and again.

So why take micrographic pictures of caffeine? The idea of these micrographs came from the same idea as described this early publication you can read here: “Crystals that will ease your pain”. While elaborating further on this idea I created several more micrographs of medicine, drugs, food adjectives and even tears. And since caffeine is a widely used (natural) substance that is also used as a food Adjective, it came natural too also add its results to the project.

The First results

This image is the result of the first try of crystallising 100% caffeine powder. The Caffeine powder was added to demineralised water and heated in a water bath to 100°C. After this first step large drops of the sample where placed on a slide, within 45minutes the drops where fully crystallised and ready be imaged.

Caffeine crystals; formed out of 100% caffeine powder dissolved in demineralised water, made visible by using a cross polarised light microscope with an Berek filter.

The large image above is a shot made out of 25+ images, these images where shot in a comprehensive grid covering only a part of the sample. The images where later stitched together in digital post production. The total resolution of the image above is about 100+ mega pixels. Below a cropped (100%) part of the image showing you the beautiful details, structures & colours of the crystals that where formed by the caffeine.

Caffeine crystals; formed out of 100% caffeine powder dissolved in demineralised water, made visible by using a cross polarised light microscope with an Berek filter. __(100% zoom of above image)__

Work in progress:

The next step would be too continue the exploration and finetuning of the caffeine crystallisation proces. When ready, I hope to find and create a new micrograph that would fit in to the series of micrographs already made.

Next on the list too be explored will be: Ureum, Vitamine E & Fluorescein hopefully I can visualise, and therefor reveal all their inner beauty, structures, colours & patterns.

So next time you take one of the world’s most addictive drug, envision this microscopic molecule working its magic in your body.


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