HILLSBORO, ORE Italian Institute of Technology’s Andrea Jacassi is the grand prize winner of the Sixth Annual 2016 Thermo Fisher Scientific Electron Microscopy image contest for his “Cysteine Rose” image. The image, acquired using the FEI Helios NanoLab 650 DualBeam, focused ion beam/scanning electron microscope (FIB/SEM) and was selected by a vote of Thermo Fisher employees from more than 270 entries. Jacassi will receive a Canon EOS 80D DSLR camera package.

Cysteine RoseCysteine RoseImage credit: Andrea Jacassi“The annual image contest provides our electron microscopy customers with a platform to show off their best images and it has allowed us to build an extensive gallery of remarkable art from the fascinating world of microscopy,” said Mike Shafer, president, materials and structural analysis, Thermo Fisher. “Most of our customers are dedicated scientists and technologists and from these technically superb images, we get a sense of their passion for their work and their appreciation for the sheer beauty they encounter as they explore a world seldom seen by the rest of us.”

“This image shows an arrangement of cysteine crystals that bears a remarkable resemblance to a rose, though one with petals less than 20μm in size,” said Jacassi. “My work focuses on the use of sophisticated FIB techniques to fabricate nanostructures for biological sensors. I later added the red color to the image to enhance its beauty and increase the affinity and memory of a rose.”

Cysteine is a proteinogenic amino acid with a well-known chemistry and important biological implications, making it a useful chemical component for testing molecular sensors. When cysteine precipitates from solution it forms crystals, which, in the image aggregated in a spiral shape mimicking the petals of a rose.

Jacassi is a PhD student at the Italian Institute of Technology, working in the Plasmon Nanotechnology group led by Francesco De Angelis. He received his Master’s degree in Astrophysics and Cosmology from the University of Bologna.