FOURTH PLACE - Job Boekhoven: Aligning the Rainbow

This wavy image is a field of long, thin nanofibers. These spaghetti-like fibers are thinner than 1/10,000th of a human hair, and just like hair, they can lay in straight lines or get tangled up in nests.

Each individual fiber is too small to see, even with a microscope, so the researchers have applied a special computer program to observe how and where the fibers align. Wherever a large clump of fibers lies in the same direction, that area is brightly colored. Wherever it is black, the fibers are all facing different directions.

The individual colors assigned depend on the angle of the fibers. Red patches show places where the strands lay horizontally while green and blue areas are vertically aligned.  This is easiest to see around the edges of the black circle (a tiny air bubble). The fibers bend around the bubble, lying at each angle along its edge, creating a rainbow.

Department of Materials Science & Engineering

Tools & Techniques: Fluorescence Microscope + colored in ImageJ

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