Light micrograph (LM) of Progesterone crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com

Drugs Under the Microscope

By Rebecca Drew

PSYCHEDELIC images of the vitamins and drugs that fly around the human body have been revealed.

Light micrograph (LM) of Dopamine crystals. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com
Light micrograph (LM) of Dopamine crystals. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com

The series of light micrographs (LM) show striking insulin, thyroxine and St John’s Wort crystals that have formed eye-popping visual patterns.

Light micrograph (LM) of Insulin crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com
Light micrograph (LM) of Insulin crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com

Light micrograph (LM) of Thyroxine crystals. The thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), are tyrosine-based hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com
Light micrograph (LM) of Thyroxine crystals. The thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), are tyrosine-based hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com

Light micrograph (LM) of St. John's Wort crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com
Light micrograph (LM) of St. John’s Wort crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com

Another shot shows brightly coloured nicotine crystals which ironically appear to resemble burning candles.

Light micrograph (LM) of Nicotine crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com
Light micrograph (LM) of Nicotine crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com

Other shots give a new perspective on the readily consumed vitamin c which forms a feathery texture up close and colourful Ibuprofen crystals. The stunning light micrographs were taken by award winning photomicrographer, Dennis Kunkel.

Light micrograph (LM) of Ibuprofen crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com
Light micrograph (LM) of Ibuprofen crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com

“In my crystal photographs, I can visualise the crystalline birefringence of organic and biological compounds,” said Dennis.

Light micrograph (LM) of Beta-carotene crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com
Light micrograph (LM) of Beta-carotene crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com

“I prepared all the crystals that I have photographed using polarized light in the light microscope.

“In the preparation, I take the solid form of the compound, such as adrenaline for example and then re-crystallise it using a number of different parameters including temperature, pressure, and time.

Light micrograph (LM) of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com
Light micrograph (LM) of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com

“Sometimes I combine different organic compounds to see what type of unusual crystal arrays I can create.”

Birefringence is the double refraction of light in a crystal that enables these colourful patterns to appear.

Light micrograph (LM) of Erythromycin (antibiotic) crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com
Light micrograph (LM) of Erythromycin (antibiotic) crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com

“The resulting crystal arrays are both science and art to me,” added Dennis.

Light micrograph (LM) of Progesterone crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com
Light micrograph (LM) of Progesterone crystals. Dennis Kunkel / SPL / mediadrumworld.com

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