These bubbles are so tiny that they can only be viewed under a microscope. It's one of several winners of an image contest in Chemical & Engineering News, and we've got a gallery of the resulting molecular weirdness.
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Runner up. By Thomas Lazzara. According to Chemical & Engineering News, "These are vesicles fluorescently labeled with Texas Red and filled with sucrose as they sank to the bottom of a petri dish filled with a low-density buffer."
First place. By Jennifer Achison, from Drexel University. Silicon nanocones shown in this scanning electron microscope image are created by decomposing silane at high temperature in a chemical vapor deposition apparatus.
Second place. According to Chemical & Engineering News, "A magnetic stirrer, a beaker of water, and colored paper were all Robert L. D'Ordine, a biochemist in Ballwin, Mo., needed to capture this familiar laboratory phenomenon."
Third place. By Ryan O'Donnell. Chemical & Engineering News explains, "The colorful birefringence pattern in this image comes from examining a micrometer-sized ammonium nitrate crystallite via cross-polarization light microscopy." Yes, it's explosives under the microscope.
Runner up. By Marjorie Austero. At Drexel University, Austero worked on creating nanofibers. Adding excess cross-linker to chitosan yielded the fine-fibered material seen in the colored SEM image.
Runner up. By Keith J. Fahnestock. Working with Austero on nanofibers, Fahnestock's experiment failed. This is what happens when nanomanufacture goes wrong. Rather than generating nanoscale fibers, this experiment produced micrometer-sized blobs.