As an image-driven person, I often find myself deeply lost and buried in the vast online libraries of universities and research centers. Scientists just love to show off all the big and shiny machinery they work on.

Even if I do not completely understand what they are doing, I love hanging on their newsfeed and waiting for any new and awesome photos. Here is a selection of the finest imagery straight from my favorite labs and scientific workshops; I hope you enjoy, too.

Argonne National Lab

These are silver nanoplates decorated with silver oxy salt nanoparticles on the edges. These nanostructures were grown under the irradiation of high-energy x-rays, which allowed scientists to "watch" them grow in real time. The image is from a scanning electron microscope.


Image and caption: Yugang Sun et. al/Courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory

This electron microscope image depicts the Earth-like emergence of silicon nano strands (green) from an indium droplet (blue) during a physical-vapor-deposition growth process.


Image and caption: Daniel Abraham, Martin Bettge and Natalia Fitzgerald/Courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory

Indium Balloon on a Nano Silicon String. The growing silicon nanostrands (that form the string) lift the balloon from a silicon wafer substrate; the nanostrand is speckled with indium droplets.

Image and caption: Daniel Abraham, Martin Bettge and Natalia Fitzgerald/Courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory

Brookhaven National Laboratory

One way of focusing intense beams of x-rays down to individual nanometers involves bending them through thestacks of atomically thin materials inside multilayer Laue lenses. These drop-like domes were carved through a process called reactive ion etching, which produced the striped bubbles in this false-colored electron microscope capture. Each dark line signified a marker layer built into these ultra precise lenses. This flawed prototype—the final lenses actually look much more like symmetrical towers—helped scientists perfect the synthesis process and prepare lenses to focus x-rays to within a single nanometer, using instruments like Brookhaven’s forthcoming National Synchrotron Light Source II.

Image and caption: Brookhaven National Laboratory

This is the precision machinery of an atomic force/scanning tunneling microscope, an instrument capable of imaging material surfaces with atomic resolution. In action, an exceptionally sharp tip comes within a few atomic diameters of the material and raster scans across the surface. To maintain a consistent distance, the tip follows every change in height and texture that it encounters—think of a turntable needle following a record’s grooves, but on the atomic scale. That tip is essentially a tungsten needle with a radius smaller than just 5 billionths of a meter. It’s just the last few atoms at the needle’s apex that drive the resolution. The machine maintains an ultra-high vacuum to keep out any stray molecules that may make the needle jump.

Image and caption: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Tape Library in the Feynman Computer Center.

Image: Reidar Hahn/Fermilab

The Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) being dismantled. The CDF is the world's highest energy proton-antiproton collider.

Image and caption: Reidar Hahn/Fermilab

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

A CCD wafer.

Image: Roy Kaltschmidt/University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

A new “tentless” National Ignition Facility target shows the two-millimeter-diameter target capsule in the center of the hohlraum. The capsule is supported by the fill tube used to fill the capsule with fuel (at 9:00) and a secondary stabilizing support tube at 3:00. Both tubes are currently 30 microns in diameter. The red triangles are lighting artifacts. This is part of a technology-development effort to minimize the seeding of hydrodynamic instabilities by capsule support structures that can disrupt NIF implosions. In previous targets, the capsule was supported by ultrathin plastic membranes known as tents; experiments indicated that the tents could be seeding hydrodynamic instabilities sufficient to interfere with the NIF implosions. A parallel technology effort has been decreasing the thickness of the tent from 100nm to the current value of 15nm.

Image and caption: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Lab

Researchers investigate details of an astronomical simulation in the CAVE at the Los Alamos SuperComputing Center. CAVE stands for Cave Automatic Virtual Environment or immersive virtual reality environment.

Image and caption: LeRoy Sanchez/Los Alamos National Laboratory

James Wren servicing LANL's latest RAPTOR (RAPid Telescopes for Optical Response) telescope. This telescope will capture the first color cinematography of nature's largest explosions: gamma-ray bursts.

Image and caption: LeRoy Sanchez/Los Alamos National Laboratory

National Energy Technology Laboratory

A deployed coronary stent made of a unique platinum-chromium alloy – a little piece of metal making big changes in the lives of patients with coronary- and peripheral-artery disease.

Image and caption: National Energy Technology Laboratory

Oak Ridge Lab

Hydrothermally synthesized, single-crystal quartz nanorods may be used for the study of geochemical dissolution and deposition processes.

Image and caption: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Conjugated polymer mediated TIPS pentacene growth shows excellent long range order and enhanced charge transport. This slow solution crystallization process largely benefits from tunable intermolecular interactions, yielding unique morphologies that are not accessible with non-conjugated polymer/TIPS pentacene blends.

Image and caption: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Printed, flexible electronics using roll-to-roll processing technology at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.

Image and caption: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Laborer working at the Spallation Neutron Source.

Image and caption: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) instrumentation.

Image and caption: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Ordered pillar arrays have been successfully explored as advanced porous media for separations. As a logical extension of this approach and to increase the surface area, silicon pillar arrays with embedded silica nanospheres have been implemented.

Image and caption: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's scientists are gaining an understanding of CO2 reactions to minerals at low temperatures in an effort to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases deep underground. Scientists at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) are using electron microscopy to understand the secondary mineral phase and its chemistry. This image, from a Helium Ion Microscope, shows forsterite and secondary phase dypingite after reacting with supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) for 43 days at 50C.

Image and caption: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Scientists at PNNL are working to design novel structured metal alloy anodes for Na-ion batteries using an electrospin method, with the goal of creating low cost energy storage technologies for grid scale applications. The team uses a design material synthesis approach to achieve targeted nanoarchitectures by controlling chemical reactivity at interfaces. They build tho nano flower with this technique.

Image and caption: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory study the microbial interactions in the plant root systems, the rhizosphere. The rhizosphere represents a critical zone where plant roots, microbes and minerals interface, and where biogeochemical weathering provides nutrients to plants. This research program will broaden our understanding of the biogeochemistry of plant-microbe-soil interactions. Shown are the spores of an opportunistic soil fungus Penicillium sp. that associates with the plant roots, microbial biofilms and soil minerals.

Image and caption: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

To find, and possibly prevent, weak spots in materials under extreme stress, such as those at the heart of a nuclear reactor, scientists at PNNL are combining detailed macroscopic to microscopic images. This colorized image shows a microscopic picture of a high-chromium, nickel-based alloy. Its surface was chemically etched to reveal faceted crystallographic planes at regions of localized microstructural damage. Through their research, scientists at PNNL are understanding how damage in metallic alloys evolves. This information may help identify failure mechanisms, improve reactor component reliability, and extend reactor life.

Image and caption: Matthew Olszta, Mychailo Toloczko, Dan Schreiber, Rob Seffens, Clyde Chamberlin and Stephen Bruemmer/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Blue OLED. New host materials for a blue phosphorescent organic light-emitting diode, also known as OLED, lights boost efficiency by at least 25 percent. This improvement helps solve the "weakest link" in development of cost-effective white OLEDs.

Image and caption: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

PNNL geoscientists use advanced machine learning techniques to quantify and classify soils. Here, a self-organizing map constructed from soil micrographs is used to confirm the algorithm’s performance.

Image and caption: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Sandia National Labs

Sandia Labs’ Mark Reece, left, and Don Susan examine a new shape memory alloy button they have removed from an arc-melter. Several new alloys have been developed at Sandia. Also a badass snake tattoo.

Image and caption: Randy Montoya/Sandia National Labs

Top image: Roger Wiens removes the laser safety plug on the ChemCam Mast Unit, selected for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. Wiens removes the plug (left), while Bruce Barraclough sits at the command console (right). Photo: LeRoy Sanchez/Los Alamos National Laboratory.