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Photograph captures caffeine under a microscope and people are saying it looks just ‘as crazy as it feels’

Photograph captures caffeine under a microscope and people are saying it looks just ‘as crazy as it feels’

The colourful spikes are quite unnerving to look at.

It's amazing to see what substances are made up of up close.

And perhaps, more interestingly, does their appearance reflect the effect they have on our bodies?

For example, when viewed under an electron microscope, asbestos reveals white, needle-like fibres capable of causing long-term damage to our lungs if inhaled.

But, what about a less frightening substance that is consumed every day by millions, say caffeine?

One post on Reddit has got people talking about the structure of caffeine when put under a microscope.

ER Productions Limited / Getty
ER Productions Limited / Getty

Reddit user MagicDave131 posted a picture of caffeine crystals at 10x zoom with an optical chopper (OC), allowing users to see things not possible with the naked eye.

The colourful spikes of caffeine appear to look like visualisations from Windows Media Player - the days before platforms like Apple iTunes became huge.

One user made a direct connection between the spikey appearance and caffeine's spikes, writing: 'makes sense. thats what it feels like'.


The OP commented on their post explaining the method behind the pictures: 'It's photographed in polarized light, which produces colors based in the internal structure of the crystal.

'That's a pretty common technique in microscopy, and you can even do it with large objects.'

'That certainly doesn't look healthy,' one user pointed out.

Another comment pondered: 'Wonder if their shape causes irritation, and becomes the reason for peeing frequently?'

Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography / Getty
Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography / Getty
The post amassed over 500 upvotes for its peculiar capture. Additionally, the user even has a whole website dedicated to this niche hobby at

Similar photos of caffeine have been captured elsewhere showing the tiny crystals, some of which caught the eye of the judges in the 2012 Wellcome Image Awards who deemed it worthy in their gallery of winners.

James Cutmore, one of the judges and picture editor at BBC Focus Magazine, explained why he liked the photo so much: 'What interests me in my professional role is showing our readers images of everyday things from a different, at first unrecognizable, perspective.

'For that reason, this image really grabbed my attention.

'It's a bright, intricate image of something that most of us experience every day.'

And he's not wrong. The FDA says 90% of people in the world consume caffeine in some form. In the U.S. alone, four out of five adults consume caffeine on a daily basis.

Featured Image Credit: ER Productions Limited / Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography / Getty