The top prize in an annual science photography competition run by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the UK has been taken out by a remarkable image of a single atom. The competition, in its fifth year, received over 100 entries that highlight the breadth and beauty in the worlds of science and engineering.
"The winners we have selected demonstrate how science and technology is affecting people's lives today at many different physical scales," explains Dr Ellie Cosgrave, one of the judges this year. "We have examples from the nanoscale, how our cells are working; how our immune systems might be able to treat different types of diseases; all the way up to technologies that can help us move through cities."
David Nadlinger's winning entry (seen above), entitled "Single Atom in an Ion Trap", captures a single positively-charged strontium atom, presented as a small pale dot hovering between two metal electrodes. The photograph of the atom, illuminated by laser light that it absorbs and then re-emits, was the overall competition winner as well as first place place in the Equipment and Facilities category.
The other four categories in the competition were Eureka & Discovery, People & Skills, Innovation, and Weird & Wonderful. Three prize winners were selected in each category by a panel of four judges, including Professor Dame Ann Dowling, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and BBC broadcaster Dr Ellie Cosgrave.
Winning photographs include electron microscope imagery of a micron-sized bubble, a robot taking a selfie, pop-art inspired by human placentas, and an extraordinary close-up of a butterfly wing at a nanometer scale.
Take a look through our gallery featuring all 15 winners in this year's competition.
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