[Bio60_2019] Fiber structure of dust

Microstructure of dust fibers

While I was going around vacuuming, I found my old BIO45 lab notebook from fall quarter lying in a corner underneath my desk. When I pulled it out to vacuum, I was greeted by a wave of dust which had been collecting on the surface that almost made my sneeze. I figured since I had a conveniently large sample of this substance at my disposal, I should take the time to take a closer look at this demon that I’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of encountering more than a few times whenever I cleaned my room.

The slide was prepared by taking a small, dense mass of tangled dust fibers using a tweezer and placing it on a slide along with a drop of water from the kitchen sink to get the cover slip to stay put. The picture was taken using a Samsung S9 phone using the light source provided with the Foldscope kit.

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect to see. Maybe there might have been bacteria, maybe some air bubbles from the water, or maybe some fibers from the dust. But looking at it, it was clear that the objects under the microscope were dust fibers. What really took my by surprise was the diversity of the visible fibers. Although the picture is a bit blurry, there were clearly think, dense strands interwoven with smaller and more tangled ones. What was really interesting was how intricately woven the smaller strands were. It was almost as if you could see a micropattern or structure of sorts, although of course I had no way of verifying whether there were actual patterns present or not.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    Fantastic description and question. If you sample more throughly, you will have an infinte source of samples to look at.

    I also noticed the image is not sharply focused. My guess is that you put the slide to be reverse in orientation. The cover slip should be closer to the lens. Could you flip and test the same. You should see perfectly crisp images fhrough your foldscope.


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