If I hadn’t become a scientist, I would surely have ended up as an artist. My dad was a painter, you see. He did all the paintings that are now on display in our house. As young children, he taught us how to draw, sketch, and paint. I never did quite as good in oil painting, but I did have some successes with watercolor and pastel. Daddy had quite a collection of art books, and it was with excitement and wonder that I perused through those pages containing various works of arts. I joined several poster-making contests and won some awards, too.
But alas, an artist I did not become. Still, I’m an art lover. I still wish that I could find the time to work on a few art projects. Someday, maybe.
While browsing through the Materials Research Society website, I found this very interesting page titled, "Science as Art," a competition held during the MRS meetings in 2005. You can find the link here. Science as art, why not? I’ve been viewing a lot of structures in my microscopy observations. I realized that I’ve been looking at similar fantastic images but never really thought of them as art. By the way, the image on the right, courtesy of MRS, is an artificially colored scanning electron micrograph of cadmium sulfide.
Well, the MRS competition gave me an idea. For starters, here is an atomic force microscopy (AFM) image of a YBCO (Y-Ba-Cu-O) superconducting film, deposited using pulsed laser deposition on CeO2-buffered sapphire substrate. In this image you can find whorls upon whorls of screw-dislocation-mediated growth islands (the one at the center actually shows a nice spiral outcrop). This image is 1 square micron in area. Each step is about one YBCO lattice unit cell height, which is about 1.2 nm. Color enhancements courtesy of Photoshop, of course. Pretty isn’t it? The amazing things you can find on the nanometer scale!
I will never look at YBCO films in the same way again. After all, if you have the will to do it, you can find art virtually ANYWHERE you look.