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NNCI image contest celebrates beauty at the nanoscale

In honor of National Nanotechnology Day on October 9th, the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) is hosting the Plenty of Beauty at the Bottom image contest. Referencing Richard Feynman’s 1959 lecture, "There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom," this image contest celebrates the beauty of the micro and nanoscale.

Voting will take place between October 7 and October 12, 2019. You can vote here:

Most Stunning

An Acousto-Optic “Flower”

Artist: Huan Li, Research Associate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mo Li, Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Physics, University of Washington

Tool: Olympus optical microscope onsite demonstration at the Washington Nanofabrication Facility

This is a true-color image of a new-generation integrated acousto-optic prototype device designed to meet crucial sensing and communication challenges. The “flower” is fabricated on a 330 nm thick suspended piezoelectric membrane, which is the large green area within the purple background. From the four small blue petals and the large red and white petal, respectively, light and sound waves of carefully chosen wavelengths are injected into the center of the flower, where light propagation is bent by sound of ultrahigh frequency by 60°, manifesting an intriguing physical phenomenon called Brillouin scattering in an unprecedented regime.

Most Unique Capability

Humulus lupulus – Bine cross section - Vessel Elements

Artists: Kurt Haunreiter, Manager, Wollenberg Paper and Bioresource Science Laboratory, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington

Tool: XL 30 SEM

This is a cross section of a hop bine showing the numerous vessel element structures in the woody plant. I am investigating an environmentally friendly oxidation method for breaking the cellulose into nano-cellulose. This examination is to document the morphological features present.

Most Whimsical

Alien Emerges

Artist: Dan Graham PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Bioengineering, University of Washington


Investigating the chemistry of the surface of a leaf using mass spectrometry. This image captures an area showing a trichrome on the bottom of a leaf and is false colored to highlight the alien like structure formed by the trichrome.  Every pixel of this image contains a full mass spectrum enabling detailed chemical analysis of the surface.  Scale bar (yellow) = 20 micron.