The photograph is more than just a pretty picture the ‘Blue spikes’ show the growth of a mesophase composed of liquid crystals in a state which lies somewhere between crystalline and liquid.
The phase grows in a drop of liquid crystal material, these molecules align in very different ways which interferes with the amount of light passing through which in turn causes it to twist and turn. By using powerfull microscopes that use polarising light, we see these as colours and textures. It is interesting that this interaction of liquid crystals and polarised light is mostly used for television screens and mobile phone displays. Although they do look great in the photograph.
Sonia work is to interpret these images and identify which stage they are at in the mesophase. Sonia explains, “I have synthesised a lot of mesophases to investigate property-structure relationships and I was thinking it would be a good idea to show my best photographs to people who are not working on liquid crystals and amaze them with these beautiful images”.
And what did the multi billion puond company offer as a prize for this great image…?
An Xbox 360 with Halo game… I’m sure the professor was exstatic with that prize!