Take a peek into the magical world of photonics and nanoparticles

Three doctoral students and a lecturer from the IfM entered images of carbon nanotube shapes, laser metal depositions and crystals into the annual Carl Zeiss Photo Competition, organised by Cambridge University Engineering Department (CUED).

One of these, a video by Andrew Payne showing the rise and fall of blue and brown liquid crystal mountains, won the Head of Department’s prize for the photo or video with the most innovative engineering story behind it.


Andrew, who is a PhD student at the Centre for Industrial Photonics (CIP), collected a series of images of a nematic liquid crystal doped with a chiral agent viewed between crossed polarisers, taken at one second intervals. The video shows the slow growth of structure under the influence of an alternating electric field and the rapid reversion when the electric field is removed.



Jon Parkins and Jiho Han, also PhD students at CIP, submitted impressive images of a metal layer applied to glass through a technique called pulsed laser deposition, with a field of view of only one millimetre.


Jon also shared images of: a substructure of a digital micromirror device; a waxy material being ablated using an ultrafast laser; and laser engravated Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), a transparent material which can conduct electricity enabling LCD and LED technologies.


Dr Michael De Volder, Lecturer in Nanomanufacturing and Engineering Design, took part in the competition with a series of images of carbon nanotubes and graphene seen through electron microscopes, revealing structures which are one thousandth of a millimetre large, formed by thousands of nanoparticles.


The annual Engineering Department photo competition, sponsored by optics and optoelectronics leader ZEISS, aims to show the breadth of engineering research at the University. All images are related to research or teaching undertaken in the Department, or out in the field and have to be beautiful, fascinating, intriguing, amusing, or possibly all of these things.


You can see the images submitted by IfM colleagues below or at this link. To see all the competition's entries visit the Department’s Flickr page.