Physics researchers recognised in national science photography contest

Two researchers from the Department of Physics have come runners up in a national science photography competition, organised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Robert Francis-Jones and Tom Wright’s image of a an optical fibre, title ‘DNA of an Optical Fibre’ was runner-up in the Eureka and Discovery category.

Robert said:"We’re delighted to have been awarded second place in the EPSRC photography competition.

DNA of an Optical Fibre

“Our submitted image shows a preform for a hollow core optical fibre that was damaged during the fabrication process. The stress in the glass caused the preform to break in a helical pattern along its complete length that resembles a DNA helix.

“These preforms that stacked by hand are reduced in size by melting and then pulling the silica glass out of a furnace at 2000 deg. C until they are around the thickness of a human hair in the final fibre, whilst still maintaining the intricate pattern within them.

“After winning best image in last year’s Images of Research, Tom and I decided to try our luck with the EPSRC annual photography competition and we were very excited to find out that we had come in second place with our entry. “

One of the judges was physicist, oceanographer and broadcaster, Dr Helen Czerski, Lecturer at UCL, she said: “Scientists and engineers are often so busy focusing on the technical details of their research that they can be blind to what everyone else sees first: the aesthetics of their work. Science is a part of our culture, and it can contribute in many different ways. This competition is a wonderful reminder of the emotional and artistic aspects of science, and it’s great that EPSRC researchers have found this richness in their own work.”

Congratulating the winners and entrants, Professor Tom Rodden, EPSRC’s Deputy Chief Executive, said: “The quality of entries into our competition demonstrates that EPSRC-funded researchers are keen to show the world how beautiful and interesting science and engineering can be. I’d like to thank everyone who entered; judging was really difficult.

“These stunning images are a great way to engage the public with the research they fund, and inspire everyone to take an interest in science and engineering.”

The competition received over 100 entries which were drawn from researchers in receipt of EPSRC funding.

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