Scientists can make some of the most beautiful photos. ‘Graphene—IPA Ink’, by James Macleod, from the University of Cambridge, is a mesmerizing image of graphene ink swirling in alcohol. It has won the overall prize in a national science photography competition organised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Graphene is a sheet of pure carbon, one atom thick, and its amazing properties seem to be all the rage among scientists. In its various forms, it can be used to detect cancer cells, turn seawater into drinking water, filter toxic water, cool smartphone chips, act like a magnet, be 10 times as strong as steel but much lighter, be printed as ink onto wearable electronics, and build the space elevator.
James Macleod explains how the photograph came about: “We are working to create conductive inks for printing flexible electronics and are currently focused on optimising our recipe for use in different printing methods and for printing onto different surfaces. This was the first time we had used alcohol to create our ink and I was struck by how mesmerising it looked while mixing.”