The University of Chicago has announced the winners of its 2023 Science as Art contest, which highlights images of innovative scientific research from the UChicago community.
The contest drew 50 entries from undergraduates, graduate students, staff, alumni, postdoctoral researchers and faculty members, showcasing everything from fossils to fly anatomy. Together, these images display the pursuit of knowledge in a new light, underscoring the beauty of intellectual exploration.
The grand-prize winner, chosen by a team of judges, is “Origami in a Tube” by Di Wang, chemist and Ph.D student.
Wang is part of a team researching new ways to make atomically thin layers of metal called MXenes (pronounced “maxeens”). These are exceptionally tiny structures that scientists think may be useful for future electronics and energy storage devices, but had previously been hard to make. The new method is not only easier, but also creates beautiful flower-like structures.
This image was taken using a scanning electron microscope, which is the only way to see such tiny structures. Each “flower” is far smaller than the diameter of a single human hair.
The second-place winner is “Exploring a Microcosm,” by Pengju Li, materials scientist and Ph.D student with the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering.
This is a microscope image of tiny, teardrop-shaped structures made of silicon as part of Li’s research into new kinds of materials for energy storage. To make these structures, Li used a chemical etching process to create extremely tiny pores on the surface that interact with light to display vibrant colors. The result? Structures that can also absorb light and convert it to energy, like solar panels do–but are also visually beautiful.