What Is This?

Looking at this image, you might be forgiven for thinking that it showed a table full of knitted bobbles, a sack full of Christmas decorations or maybe even some kind of new candy—but you'd be wrong.

In fact you're looking at crystals of zinc oxide growing on the surface of spherical nanoparticles. The image, acquired using a scanning electron microscope by Joon Hwan Bahng of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, has had the color added to make it easier to differentiate between the separate objects. The result is a neat hybrid of science and art. And it's not just us who approves—the photograph won Joon Hwan Bahng the first prize in the Materials Research Society's biannual Science as Art competition. [New Scientist]

Image by Materials Research Society Science as Art Competition and Joong Hwan Bahng, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor