15 breathtaking images you need to see from the EPSRC annual science photography competition

There were more than a 100 entries for the contest.

(Dr Rosalind Aughwane/UCL/EPSRC)
(Dr Rosalind Aughwane/UCL/EPSRC)

An image of an atom, an extreme close-up of a butterfly’s wing and a photo of a robotic arm taking a selfie are some of the images that are featured in a prestigious science photography competition.

The winning image came from David Nadlinger, whose photo, “Single atom in an ion trap”, was captured through the window of a vacuum chamber in an Oxford University laboratory, using an ordinary digital camera on a long exposure shot.

The image beat more than 100 entries to claim first place overall in the 2018 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) science photography competition.

Other photos which impressed the judges included an extreme close-up of a butterfly’s wing captured by Bernice Akpinar from Imperial College London and a two-part entry from Luke Cramphorn of the University of Bristol Robotics Laboratory, featuring a robotic hand and arm taking a selfie with a selfie stick and a mobile phone.

Here are all the stunning photos from the competition.

1. Single atom in an ion trap

A single glowing atom of strontium.
Overall winner and first prize in Place Equipment & Facilities category (David Nadlinger/University of Oxford/EPSRC)

The atom is cooled by a laser inside an ultra-high vacuum chamber. The work provides a pristine platform for exploring and harnessing the unique properties of quantum physics.

2. Nature’s nano-sized net for capturing colour

Surface of a butterfly wing.
First prize in the Weird and Wonderful category (Bernice Akpinar/Imperial College London/EPSRC)

The ridges in the picture are one micron in height and connected by a series of cross-ribs which trap incident light, producing a colour whose brilliance never fades.

3. Placental pop art

Placental 'Pop Art'.
Second place in the Weird and Wonderful category (Dr Rosalind Aughwane/UCL/EPSRC)

These images show automatically segmented chorionic vascular trees obtained from high resolution photography.

4. Just mud, or the future sustainable concrete?

Third place in the Weird and Wonderful category (Alastair Marsh/University of Bath/EPSRC)

Researchers believe that mud has the potential as a construction material to help house the world’s growing population in a sustainable manner, and are looking to see how it could replace concrete blocks that are used for much of the current new housing around the globe.

5. In a kitchen far far away…

First prize in the Eureka and Discovery category (Mr Li Shen/Imperial College London/EPSRC)

6. Biodegradable microbowls could help fight stubborn cancers

A biodegradable microbowl.
Second place in the Eureka and Discovery category (Tayo Sanders II/Institute of Biomedical Engineering/University of Oxford/EPSRC)

The bowl-shaped particles are injected along with the anti-tumour drugs and could help them penetrate further into the diseased area after ultrasound is applied as it encourage gas bubbles to oscillate and carry the drug deeper.

7. An in-vitro 3D tissue engineered model of neuromuscular junction formation

In-vitro 3D tissue.
Third place in the Eureka and Discovery category (Andrew Capel/Loughborough University/EPSRC)

Traditionally this testing is done through the use of animal models, which are not only ethically questionable, but do not accurately represent the unique physiology of a human being.

8. Microbubble for drug delivery

A microbubble coated with nano-sized liposomes containing a drug.
First prize in the Innovation category (Estelle Beguin/University of Oxford/EPSRC)

The technology is used to enhance the contrast of ultrasound diagnostic images and is also being explored for therapeutic applications and to improve the delivery of drugs to diseased targets such as tumours.

9. High throughput screening: In search of serendipity

Screening of hundreds of polymers.
Second place in the Innovation category (Dr Mahetab Amer/University of Nottingham/EPSRC)

The ability of cells to attach to materials is an essential step towards the discovery of new biomaterials for growing stem cells.

10. Building blocks for a lighter future

Aluminium building blocks.
Third place in the Innovations category (Sam Catchpole Smith/University of Nottingham/EPSRC)

The lattice structures manufactured via selective laser melting – a type of additive manufacturing or 3D printing – have exceptional strength and stiffness, allowing engineers to significantly reduce the weight of components.

11. Searching for simulated Fukushima fuel debris using an AVEXIS ROV

An AVEXIS remotely operated vehicle with an acoustic sonar.
Second place in the Equipment and Facilities catgeory (Dr Simon Watson/University of Manchester/EPSRC)

The research project is investigating how to localise and identify fuel debris within the Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, using a combination of radiation detection payloads and acoustic sonar, mounted on a state-of-the-art ROV.

12. Molecular beam epitaxy machine

 Molecular Beam Epitaxy Machine.
Third place in the Equipment and Facilities category (Claudia Gonzalez E Burguete/UCL/EPSRC)

The wafer is the base used in electronics for the fabrication of the integrate circuits, which were traditionally made of silicon.

13. Spiderman on George IV Bridge

 A man wearing an EEG headset.
First prize in the People and Skills category (Richard Coyne/University of Edinburgh/EPSRC)

Rarely used outdoors before this project, EEG (Electroencephalography) is a way of recording brain activity.

Following the successful pilot, researchers used EEG to measure the neural responses of 95 people aged over 65 to different outdoor urban environments, from busy roads to a quiet park.

14. Lady’s Finger crop – benefits of smart irrigation

Two sets of Lady's Finger crops grown in India.
Second place in the People and Skills category (Lucy Bryden/Heriot Watt University/EPSRC)

The smart automated system in Buddha Garden, India, combines a highly localised weather forecast with local know-how on irrigation needs and soil conditions, to produce a “right time, right volume” approach to micro-irrigation which has increased yields by 100%, reduced water and energy consumption by 82% as well as labour and composting requirements.

15. Roboselfie

A robot taking a selfie.
Third place in the People and Skills category (Luke Cramphorn/University of Bristol Robotic Laboratory/EPSRC)

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