What is this image?

Myristic acid at 100x viewed using cross polarized light

The striking image currently on the website banner and on my business card is a photo taken through a microscope.  The subject is myristic acid, an organic compound derived from Myristica fragrans, better known as nutmeg.  Myristic acid is found in many other plant oils.  To make the microscope slide, a few grains of the myristic acid, a white powder, were placed on a microscope slide and heated.  Myristic acid has a low melting temperature and crystallizes quickly when the heat is removed returning it to its original white crystalline solid state.  But each time it recrystallizes it produces a different whimsical microscopical world of interlocking patterns.  The image was magnified 100x and viewed through polarizing filters to reveal these fantastic colors, called “interference colors”. 

This image won best overall image in the Photomicrography Competition at the 2013 Inter/Micro, an International Microscopy Symposium held annually at the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago, Illinois.  The image was then featured on a cover of The Microscope and the program for Inter/Micro 2014.

Photos of magazine covers featuring photographs by Julian Gray

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