Photo from here!
Came across this gem on Twitter today from:
It looks like it could be so many different things, but is actually
...zinc oxide growing on the outside of tiny spherical particles, as seen through the lens of a scanning electron microscope.
The Materials Research Society (MRS) has held a bi-annual "Science as Art" Competition since 2007. Their description of the what and why is:
Visualization methods provide an important tool in materials science for the analysis and presentation of scientific work. Images can often convey information in a way that tables of data or equations cannot match. Occasionally, scientific images transcend their role as a medium for transmitting information, and contain the aesthetic qualities that transform them into objects of beauty and art.
An SEM is essentially a REALLY powerful scanner. Except instead of a light beam, it uses an electron beam to dislodge electrons from the orbitals of atoms composing the material being scanned. When these (secondary) electrons are dislodged they are read by a "secondary electron reading device", which then produces a perfect 3D image of whatever is being scanned.
These images are initially grayscale, but are commonly coloured for artistic and/or scientific reasons.