Winner - A Window into the Deep Earth

Image by John MacDonald Geographical & Earth Sciences

This rock outcrop in the Outer Hebrides is among the oldest rocks in Britain. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, the swirling patterns are testament to millions of years of melting and compression deep within the Earth. A billion years of erosion and uplift have brought these rocks to the surface and give us a window through which to understand these deep processes.   

Winning entry photo 2015


2nd  - Forming order from chaos

Image by Christopher Syme School of Chemistry, University of Glasgow

Cooling pentanol to well below its melting point creates a highly unstable ‘supercooled’ liquid that is poised to crystallise at any moment. Here, crystals burst forth from two sites causing the growth fronts to crash into each other creating a striking interface. The alignment of molecules in the crystal affects how polarised light is transmitted, producing regions of different colour and intensity. Understanding how liquids become solid is of fundamental importance but the mechanism is yet to be fully understood.

second photo comp 2015

Acknowledgements: EPSRC, Prof. Klaas Wynne, WestCHEM

3rd: - Mesophases in a sea of crystals

Image by Klaas Wynne and Joanna Mosses, School of Chemistry

It seems so simple: when you cool a liquid, it is supposed to crystallise. However, some liquids do not play along with the rules of this game and instead hide in a phase that refuses to crystallise. The photo shows one of these phases (the disks with the blue-and-black cross) that stubbornly lingers in an unusual nematic liquid phase.

Third photo comp 2015

Acknowledgements: We thank the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for support through Grants EP/F06926X, EP/J004790, and EP/J014478.

Honourable mention from Head of College

An algebraic snapshot of topology

Image by Liam Watson School of Mathematics and Statistics, Glasgow

Geometric information can sometimes be better understood by translating it into algebra. This backboard captures that process – key to understanding phenomena in low-dimensions – on a three-dimensional space. Pure mathematics is a science of how we think; this process is illustrative of how gains can be made by thinking about structure differently.

Fourth photo comp 2015

Pushing the boundaries

Image by Pavan Konda, Second year PhD student in School of Physics and Astronomy

The maximum resolution at an object can be resolved depends on radius of the circle in Fourier space. Pushing the radius beyond the limitation of the optics of a system is necessary to obtain very high resolution images. Obtaining high resolution images is essential in many areas of biology.

Pushing Boundaries

Microscopic blood vessels on the outside of the eye

Image by Lewis Mackenzie Imaging Concepts Group, School of Physics and Astronomy.

These microscopic blood vessels on the outside of the human eye contain a wealth of information about local blood circulation. Functional imaging of these vessels could be useful in understanding the development of diseases such as diabetes and dry-eye syndrome.

 Blood vessels

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Imaging Concepts Group, in particular Javier Fernandez Ramos and Andy Harvey

How attractive are you?

Image by Richard Middlemiss Institute for Gravitational Research (Physics and Astronomy), Silicon Devices Group (Engineering)

This miniature gravity sensor is capable of seeing the gravitational pull of a human at a distance of 1m. It’s a mass suspended from four springs that are ten times thinner than a human hair. It could be used in applications as diverse as predicting volcano eruptions to finding landmines.


Acknowledgements: This device has been constructed in the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre, with the help of the staff and many other researchers. The work is supervised by Dr Giles Hammond and Prof Douglas Paul.


Playing LEGO with atoms

Image by Kerry O’Shea School of Physics and Astronomy

Atomic resolution imaging allows the structural, chemical and magnetic properties of technologically advanced materials to be investigated with unprecedented detail. Here, a sharp interface between two functional oxides can be observed; chemical analysis allows mapping of the constituent elements. Understanding oxide interfaces is critical for the development of next generation microelectronics.


Acknowledgements: Dr. D. MacLaren

Thermoelectric Nanoflowers

Image by Guang Han School of Chemistry, University of Glasgow

Lead-free metal selenide nanoflowers, consisting of thin nanosheets, have been controllably produced. They can be compacted into bulk nanostructured materials which hold promise for efficient thermoelectric conversion, that is, thermal to electrical energy conversion. They can be used in generating useful electricity from waste heat, thus paving a way in tackling the energy crisis.



Acknowledgements: I appreciate the help from my supervisor and colleagues.

Laser beams in space

Image by David Robertson IGR, Physics and Astronomy, Glasgow University

This delicate looking glass structure is an ultra-stable laser beam launcher. Built by the LISA group at Glasgow

University it is constructed with a precision of a thousandth of a millimetre yet is robust enough to survive the brutal shaking of a rocket launch and the harsh radiation it will meet in space.

 laser beams

Love Maths in Heart

Image by H. Gao, WW. Chen, NA Hill, and Xiaoyu Luo, School of Mathematics & Statistics

With a beautiful fibre-reinforced structure, the heart pumps blood by contracting the soft tissue of its wall day and night.  This wonderful organ can be described by mathematics.  Based on non-invasive clinical imaging, our state-of-the-art heart models provide important insight into subject-specific cardiac function in health and disease.

Love in maths heart


Alien parody

Image by Adrienne Macartney The University of Glasgow, School of Geographical & Earth Sciences 

In 1996 NASA researchers presented evidence for bacterial fossil life in the carbonate rosettes of Martian meteorite ALH 84001. Here we observe stunningly similar carbonate rosettes formed by inorganic processes, collected from Oman. By comparing carbonate features the validity of alien fossil life from Mars can be critically assessed. Image: False colour scanning electron microscope x-ray mapping image.

 Alien Parody

Acknowledgements: Sample kindly donated by the British Geological Survey and some thin section preparatory work by John Gilleece from the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences.

Magnesium Oxide Imaging using Transmission Electron Microscope.

Image by Paul Cockshott Reader at the University of Glasgow

This research shows collaboration between computing science and physics departments in Glasgow university. The middle image shows two-dimensional projection images of Magnesium Oxide cubes while the other images show the chemical composition of the imaged sample. This image was obtained Electron Microscope. The resolution of this cubes are approximately 100 nanometre which is 0.0005 of a human hair thickness.

 Magnesium Oxide

Acknowledgements: PC acknowledges funding for Ala’ AlAfeef from the Lord Kelvin/Adam Smith Scholarship of the University of Glasgow. We would like to thank Dr.Peter Eschbach from Oregon State University for his help.

Three Dimensional Visualization of Nano Particle images using Electron Microscope.

Image by Ala’ Al-Afeef Doctoral Researcher - Computer Vision and Graphics Group

This research shows collaboration between computing science and physics departments in Glasgow university. The figure shows a 3D-visualization of steel nano particles which was obtained using DualEELS 3D tomography. This technique was developed in Glasgow University and provides visualisation with higher feudality than traditional approaches.

Three Dimentional


AAA acknowledges funding for a PhD studentship from the Lord Kelvin/Adam Smith Scholarship of the University of Glasgow.  The work on high-Mn steels was funded by the EU Research Fund for Coal and Steel (Precipitation in High Manganese Steels, RFSR-CT-2010-00018). This work was made possible by generous provision of the MagTEM facility by SUPA and the University of Glasgow.

Suspended Sapphire

Image by Rebecca Douglas University of Glasgow

A sapphire disc is delicately suspended on 50 micron tungsten fibres. Hanging isolates it from vibrations and temperature fluctuations, allowing accurate measurements of its properties such as how it disperses energy given to it. This helps us understand sapphire's suitability for building gravitational wave detectors which are intended as a new kind of telescope; measuring gravitational waves instead of light.

Suspended Sapphire

Karman Vortex Street Caused by Shock Wave Diffraction

Image by Francesca Gnani University of Glasgow, School of Engineering

Vortex street at Mach number of 1.6.

Karman Vortex Street

Acknowledgements: The authors are indebted to the EPSRC Engineering Instrument Pool, especially Mr. Adrian Walker for the loan of the high-speed camera.

The Road Taken

Image by Murray Ireland University of Glasgow

In the University’s MAST Lab, we are working on control systems and autopilots for our micro air vehicles (MAV) so that they can better perform tasks such as search-and-rescue, construction, multi-vehicle co-operation, etc. Here the flight path of one of our quadrotor MAVs is captured using long-exposure photography.

The Road Taken

Acknowledgements: Dave Anderson, Aldo Vargas

Turning the light on to gravitational waves

Image by Michael Perreur-Lloyd. Project Engineer, Glasgow LISA Team, Institute for Gravitational Research, School of Physics and Astronomy,

Gravitational wave observation will reveal the most violent events in the Universe with unprecedented clarity.  For spaceborne detectors, precision bonded ultra-stable fibre collimators - designed, built and tested at the University of Glasgow - are required to make measurements of a millionth of a millionth of a metre, over million kilometre distances. 

gravitational waves

Acknowledgements: The work shown in this photograph is that of the LISA Team in the School of Physics and Astronomy.


Image by Roger Grau Andres PhD Student, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow

Climate change will increase the severity of fires, threatening the vast amounts of carbon stored in soils, especially in northern regions. What implications do higher fire severities have for soil carbon in temperate ecosystems? Can altered fire regimes turn soils from atmospheric carbon sinks into sources of carbon?


Acknowledgements: The photo depicts heather burning being conducted at Glen Tanar Estate (Aberdeenshire) by Glen Tanar staff.