Chicken embryo vascular system

This fluorescence micrograph shows the vascular system of a developing chicken embryo, two days after fertilization. Injecting fluorescent dextran revealed the entire vasculature used by the embryo to feed itself from the rich yolk inside the egg.

Microneedle vaccine

This scanning electron micrograph shows an array of "microneedles" made from a biodegradable polymer. Researchers have shown that these materials can be used to deliver vaccines and therapeutics to the outer layers of the skin in a safe and painless way. Each microneedle is approximately 700 microns high and 250 microns wide at the base and can be applied to the skin as a one centimeter-squared patch.

Xenopus laevis oocytes

This confocal micrograph shows stage V-VI oocytes (800–1,000 micron diameter) of an African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), a model organism used in cell and developmental biology research. Each oocyte is surrounded by thousands of follicle cells, shown in the image by staining DNA blue. Blood vessels, which provide oxygen to the oocyte and follicle cells, are shown in red. The ovary of each adult female Xenopus laevis contains up to 20,000 oocytes. Mature oocytes are approximately 1.2 mm in diameter, much larger than the eggs of many other species.

Diatom frustule

This false-colored scanning electron micrograph shows a diatom frustule, a unicellular organism that is part of a major group of algae. Diatoms are one of the most common types of phytoplankton, and their communities are often used to measure environmental conditions such as water quality. This particular example is approximately 80 microns in diameter.

Connective tissue

A false-coloured scanning electron micrograph showing connective tissue removed from a human knee during arthroscopic surgery. Individual fibers of collagen can be distinguished and have been highlighted by the creator using a variety of colors. The horizontal field width of the image is 16 microns.

Bacteria biofilm

This confocal micrograph, taken as part of a synthetic biology project, shows Bacillus subtilis, a Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in soil. Distinct lineages of bacteria expressing different fluorescent proteins were initially mixed randomly on a petri dish. As the bacteria grew, they organized themselves into reproducible patterns and shapes that can be predicted with mathematical models. The horizontal field width of this image is 500 microns.

Desmid algae (Micrasterias denticulata)

This photomicrograph shows Micrasterias, a type of green alga called a desmid. Desmids usually inhabit the acidic waters of peat bogs. These particular desmids are flat, platelike single cells made up of two halves (semicells), which are mirror images of each other. The horizontal image field measures 150 microns.

Loperamide crystals

This false-coloured scanning electron micrograph shows crystals of loperamide, an antimotility drug used to treat diarrhea by slowing down the movement of the intestine and reducing the speed at which the contents of the gut pass through. Food remains in the intestines for longer, and water can be more effectively absorbed back into the body. The crystal group measures approximately 250 microns across.

Arabidopsis thaliana seedling

A confocal micrograph shows the tissue structures within the leaf of an Arabidopsis thaliana seedling. The sample was fixed and stained with propidium iodide, which labels DNA, but was imaged four years later. Over time, oxidation of the stain in different parts of the tissue provides differential fluorescent properties that can be excited with distinct wavelengths of light from a confocal microscope. The researchers are using these techniques to investigate cellular architecture in plants and gene activity. The horizontal field width of this image is 200 microns.

Caffeine crystals

This false-coloured scanning electron micrograph shows caffeine crystals. Found in varying quantities in the seeds, leaves, and fruit of some plants, caffeine acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plant. The main crystals of caffeine were 400-500 microns long; however, this crystal group formed on the end of the larger crystal and measures around 40 microns in length.

Co.Design

10 Of The Year's Most Amazing Science Photos

The Wellcome Collection announces the winners of its image awards.

Last week, the Wellcome Collection announced the winners of its 12th annual image awards, recognizing the "most informative, striking and technically excellent" pictures from the collection’s recent acquisitions.

The winners—capturing everything from the division of cancer cells to the crystalline structure of caffeine—demonstrate how such techniques as microscopy can be used not only to enhance our understanding of chemicals and organisms but to create truly awe-inspiring images. Ever wonder what a chicken embryo’s vascular system looks like? Regardless, you’ll be amazed by the web of blood vessels that forms only two days after fertilization.

Check out other examples in the above slideshow. The winning images are also on display at the Wellcome Collection, in London, until the end of the year. For more info on the awards, go here.

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9 Comments

  • Patty Lopez

    These photos are gorgeous. I wish they were available as art for purchase. I'd love to see images like these in every middle school, high school and university across the US to reignite a passion for science.

  • Tjsmart

    Had the same problems on the captions, and no, mousing over them did not bring them to the forefront. Shame such an extraordinarily talented and technically literate team like Fast Company has such a problem.

  • Eric Rice

    Awesome stuff. Though, I'll admit that I'm a little disappointed that they're all microscopic images, and almost all biological. 

    In the spirit of sharing more awesome science images, this is one of my favorites of the past year - a whole-sky infrared image compiled from the images taken by the WISE telescope: 
    http://wise.ssl.berkeley.edu/g...

  • Kelchert

    Beautiful images!  A shame one can't read the captions, though, as they're eclipsed by the article.  :-(