From flashing brain cells to a marine larva that looks truly out of this world, Nikon Instruments Inc. has just revealed the winners of its annual Nikon Small World in Motion Photomicrography Competition, showcasing aesthetic and technical wizardry on the smallest scale.
Now in its 10th year, the Small World in Motion video competition is the sister of the longstanding Nikon Small World still-photography competition, the winners of which will be announced on October 13.
This year’s first prize was won by Kazi Rabbi and Dr Xiao Yan for their stunning video showing micro-droplets made of 80 percent water and 20 percent ethanol coalescing. The video was part of a project on developing surfaces that enhance the condensation and evaporation of liquids, an attribute that could hold many important uses.
“Think about anything from keeping the pipes from freezing in winter to making your air conditioning unit run more efficiently,” Rabbi said in a statement. “If we can develop surfaces and materials that better repel liquids, we can create appliances, power systems, and other technologies that require less energy to run. It could lead to a more sustainable future.”
The video isn’t just easy on the eyes, it was also a real feat to capture on film. Those few seconds of film required the pair to operate a high-speed camera interfaced with a microscopic lens, while focusing on the perfect plane and maintaining lighting, combined with controlling the micro-droplet generation and growth. The droplets are, in fact, also reacting to a surface developed by Rabbi and Yan’s own work.
The top 5 winning videos, along with a few honorable mentions.
“This year’s movies, and our winning video, in particular, captures the spirit of Nikon Small World in Motion on the competition’s 10th anniversary,” said Eric Flem, Communications Manager at Nikon. “The winning video illustrates how highly sophisticated imaging techniques and systems can help us see and better understand common concepts as well as lead to improvements to technologies and products we all use in our everyday lives.”
Second prize was awarded to Dr Richard Kirby, a marine scientist who specializes in the study of plankton, for his beautiful video of a larva of a marine horseshoe worm. He hopes his video boosts the public's appreciation of the billions of tiny microorganisms that live in marine environments and play a fundamental role in their ecosystems. Once again, the video was a real challenge to shoot due to the delicacy of the alien-like subject.
As mentioned, stay tuned for the winners of the Nikon Small World still-photography competition on October 13, celebrating the world's most beautiful images captured through a microscope. For a taster, you can check out last year’s winners right here.