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Wonders of unseen worlds

Browse through the top-rated images of microscopic wonders from the 2013 FEI Image Contest.

/ 19 PHOTOS

Psychedelic ant

Every year, FEI instrument owners are invited to submit their best images of the microscopic world for a chance to showcase their skill, research and creativity. From May to July 2013, a winner was selected by FEI and National Geographic each month as the best in four categories: Around the House, The Natural World, The Human Body and Other Relevant Science. The public was then invited to select a grand prize winner. Here's a look at the top choices - plus some of our favorite submissions, such as this false-color image of an ant at 64x magnification.

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immune cell communication
Dendritic cells stimulated with adjuvant silicon microparticles interact with T cells.

<i>Courtesy of Rita Serda</i>

Immune cell communication

This image of dendritic cells stimulated with adjuvant silicon microparticles, interacting with T cells, was the July winner in "The Human Body" category.

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Edge section of generic dental floss.     

<i>Courtesy of William Mitchell</i>

<u>Image Details</u>
<b>Instrument used:</b> Quanta Family
<b>Magnification:</b>  188x
<b>Vacuum:</b>  High Vacuum
<b>Voltage:</b>  10kV
<b>Spot:</b>  7.0
<b>Working Distance:</b>  10.0mm
<b>Detector:</b>  Combined SE and BSE

Chew on this

Here's a close-up view of the edge section of generic dental floss, as seen under the microscope.

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This image at 20,000x magnification shows a grid used for sample growth and observation through transmission electron microscopy. It was the May winner in the "Other Relevant Science" category.

Elaborate web

This image at 20,000x magnification shows a grid used for sample growth and observation through transmission electron microscopy. It was the May winner in the "Other Relevant Science" category.

Cyril Guedj
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Smoker's defense

This cross-transverse view of a cigarette filter, showing cellulose acetate fibers, was the May winner in the "Around the House" category.

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Dandelion pollen (color added)

<i>Courtesy of Owen Crankshaw</i>

<u>Image Details</u>
<b>Instrument used:</b> Quanta Family
<b>Magnification:</b>  5,000
<b>Horizontal Field Width:</b>  50 um
<b>Voltage:</b>  15 KV
<b>Spot:</b>  2.5 um
<b>Working Distance:</b>  10 mm
<b>Detector:</b>  SE

Another green world

Dandelion pollen is seen at 5,000x magnification.

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Lice olympics (pole vault). Head lice on two human hair.

<i>Courtesy of Louwrens Tiedt</i>

Lice Olympics

No, this head lice isn't preparing for the pole vault. It's gripping onto two human hairs, seen through a microscope. It was the May winner in "The Human Body" category.

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Helichrysum italicum flower with pollens

Ricardo Antonelli

Alien flower

This extreme close-up image of a Helichrysum italicum flower with pollen grains was the June winner in the "Natural World" category. Helichrysum iltalicum is also known as the curry plant, because of the strong smell of its leaves.

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Mechanical Pencil

<i>Courtesy of Daniel Rigler</i>

<u>Image Details</u>
<b>Instrument used:</b> Inspect Family
<b>Magnification:</b>  138X

Get the lead out

The tip of a mechanical pencil is seen at 138x magnification.

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One is just not enough
False arms (pseudopodia) arise from the human fibroblast to engulf silica microparticles.

<i>Courtesy of Rita Serda</i>

Silly pseudopods

Green-tinted false arms, also known as pseudopods, arise from a human fibroblast cell to engulf silica microparticles in this photo, selected as the June winner in the "Around the House" category.

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Snap-off Blade Knife
This is the fracture surface of a snap-off blade after breaking off one of the segments.

<i>Courtesy of Joern Leuthold</i>

Knife's edge

This photo of the fracture surface of a snap-off blade after breaking off one of the segments was the June winner in "The Human Body" category.

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HairStyle
A SEM image of the upper part of the style and stigma from an Arabidopsis flower.

<i>Courtesy of Guichuan Hou</i>

Bizarre bloom

This scanning electron microscope image shows the upper part of the style and stigma from an Arabidopsis flower.

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The picture was taken after the growth by CVD of silicon nanowires on a copper foil with gold on top. Magnetic field of earth perturbed by a sun storm
When I saw it I remembered the perturbation caused by sun storms on magnetic field of the earth. These nanowires will be used to manufacture anodes of ion-Li batteries. 

Courtesy of Isidoro Ignacio Poveda Barriga

Solar storm

This photo shows silicon nanowires that were grown on copper foil with gold on top, through a process known as chemical vapor deposition. These nanowires will be used to manufacture anodes for lithium-ion batteries. The extreme close-up can often resemble things at a much greater scale, which led the creator to title this image "Magnetic Field of Earth Perturbed by a Sun Storm."

This image was the June winner in the "Other Relevant Science" category. .

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Mouthparts filter of an aquatic larva of third age of Asian Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).

Open wide

The mouth parts of the aquatic third-stage larva of an Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) are seen at 800x magnification. This image was the July winner in the "Around the House" category.

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The new Bacterial Nanocables have been found in Aarhus Bay last year, and then published in Nature 218 (2012) 491 

<i>Courtesy of Jie Song</i>

Underwater cable

This photo of bacterial nanocables that were found in Denmark's Aarhus Bay was the July winner in the "Natural World" category.

Jie Song
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Child's play

The rope from a toy guitar is seen at 200x magnification.

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Micro potpourri

This photo of Torilis arvensis, more commonly known as spreading hedge parsley, was the July winner in the "Other Relevant Science" category.

The plants grow up to 3 feet in height with tiny flowers clustered in small flat-topped umbels. The fruit of the plant, also known as the schizocarp, is covered with Velcro-like appendages that attach to clothing and fur, allowing them to hitch a ride to new terrain.

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Human hair
Female hair fiber.

<i>Courtesy of Francisco Rangel</i>

High-resolution hair

A single strand of a woman's hair is seen at 4,000x magnification.

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In this SEM image we can see an Acacia dealbata (yellow mimosa) flower about to open. The HFW is 4.35 mm. The image was taken with the flower in a fresh state, extracted from the tree and put onto the microscope at the moment. Also the image was taken as soon as possible to avoid high structure damage. False color applied by Photoshop.

<i>Courtesy of Marcos Rosado</i>

<u>Image Details</u>
<b>Instrument used:</b> Quanta Family
<b>Magnification:</b>  69x
<b>Horizontal Field Width:</b>  4.35 mm
<b>Vacuum:</b>  High Vacuum
<b>Voltage:</b>  1.5 kV
<b>Spot:</b>  3.0
<b>Working Distance:</b>  15mm
<b>Detector:</b>  SE

Grand prize bouquet

An Acacia dealbata (yellow mimosa) flower is shown about to open in this image, selected by popular vote as the grand prize winner in the 2013 FEI Image Contest. Marcos Rosado says he picked the bloom from a tree in his parents' garden. "It seemed to have some beautiful yellow spots into it, so I decided to take it and have a look at it in the microscope. What I discovered is that it, as I supposed, was an Acacia Dealbata flower about to open."

More 2013 FEI Image Contest submissions

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