Scientist Creates and Snaps Photographs of Microscopic Crystal Flowers

Crystal Microscopic Flowers

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences postdoctoral fellow Wim L. Noorduin, along with his colleagues, have discovered an interesting way to make pictures of flowers from microscopic crystals, as seen under an electron microscope.

The process calls for dissolving barium chloride and sodium silicate in a container of water. A chemical reaction then forms barium carbonate crystals (thanks to carbon dioxide in the air). From there, the shape of these crystals can be manipulated with small pH changes to the solution.

One formed, they’re placed under an electron microscope and the final product resembles a field of flowers on a flat surface – which are actually glass plates, razor blades, and even pennies.

Blue crystal flowers

“When you look through the electron microscope, it really feels a bit like you’re diving in the ocean, seeing huge fields of coral and sponges,” says Noorduin.

“Sometimes I forget to take images because it’s so nice to explore,” he continued.

But it isn’t quite all that it seems to be. The crystals aren’t simply photographed under the microscope on all of their colorful glory. Rather, the pictures are black and white, and the photographs are falsely colored to create vivid colors:

Black and white crystal flowers




Perhaps not true-to-form, but very interesting and artistic. Read more on Noorduin’s expiriments on the Harvard School of Engineered and Applied Sciences site.

(via Harvard SEAS via VICE]

Image credits: Photographs by Wim L. Noorduin/Harvard University

  • Dilman

    That’s what Electron Microscopes were invented for…..or maybe not. Sorry, guys, this strikes me as pointless.

  • joe

    Perhaps thats the way you see it. Maybe you might enjoy one of the other half a dozen posts they have put up in the last hour.

    I think the images are beautiful. I can’t help but think of fractals and how it seems that no matter what scale we look at there is a beautiful pattern to life.

  • Rick

    Science as art. This is hardly pointless; it’s brilliant.

  • Jeff

    Spot on Rick.

  • Mike

    So what WERE they invented for, if not for looking at tiny stuff?
    Oh well, some people stay boring…

  • 43223432

    i could just render that with 3d max…..