Under the Microscope: Chilli Flake

This episode of “Cool Stuff Under the Microscope” focuses on a food item that people typically either have a love or hate relationship with; Chilli (flakes).

The Chilli pepper (from which the flakes come) is the fruit (including seeds) from plants of the Capsicum genus (family Solanaceae). The heat from the Chilli has evolved as a defence mechanism to prevent animals who would chew (and therefore destroy) the seed, whilst not affecting other animals who would not (for example birds). The component that gives the Chilli heat is known as capsaicin (and also a few other related chemicals called capsaicinoids).

The following image was captured by analysing a small chilli flake on a glass slide through the Radical Microscope, with the images being focus stacked into individual images (below). Images were captured with a Nikon D5300 Digital camera, with the focus stacking being carried out in Helicon Focus PRO (which is expensive at around $240 USD but fantastic software), and final editing being carried out in Lightroom.

The focus was slightly off, but the structure is nonetheless fascinating.

As always, if you have any idea’s on things to image under the microscope don’t hesitate to let me know either through this site or on social media.

Chilli Flake (Focus Stacked) - HighMag Chilli Flake (Focus Stacked)