One of our Instagram followers won a print of this beautiful image! Be sure to follow us on Instagram @SITN_Harvard for your chance to win some SciArt.

This beautiful contribution from Don Pottle is best described by the legend himself:

“A few years ago, I was asked by a maker  of  contact lenses to examine a few samples of used contact lenses.  There was a suspicion of contamination. In this protocol,  I also examined the nature of the contact lens solutions in which they were transported.  As part of the examination,  I placed several small drops of contact lens solution onto microscope slides and allowed them to dry in a dust-free environment.  Once dry, the resulting precipitate was imaged using a technique called Differential Interference Contrast (similar to phase contrast) under 20X and 40x objective lenses.  I discovered several species of crystals within the specimens;  some were quite large, like the samples shown in this collage.  Exactly what these crystals are is a proprietary matter known only to the makers of the solution.  They represent no contamination suspicion – they are substances that were purposely placed into the original solution.  Contact lens solution is actually a mixture of solvents; preservatives, antimicrobials, isotonic-balancing salts, chemicals that make the contact lens comfortable for the wearer, and many other things.

“Other crystals were found in the samples – some have a tiger-striping coloration, others look like unearthly birds in flight, and other interesting designs.  I discovered at least seven different crystal-producing substances in the contact lens droplets.  I do not know the actual chemical names ( they are a company secret – as I mentioned before).

“The contact lenses, by the way, were not contaminated.”

Many thanks to Don Pottle for his contributions to our gallery. To see some of the other crystals he describes, check out our Instagram.

To learn how crystals form, click here. Be sure to explore all the tabs along the top of that website to learn everything about crystals, even how to grow them yourself!

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