Minister Announces UL Researcher as Winner of SFI Research Image of the Year Competition

Lightning Wires by Matthew Gleeson

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English TD, recently announced Matthew Gleeson, postgraduate researcher at UL, as the winner of Science Foundation Ireland’s Research Image of the Year competition for his picture ‘Lightning Wires’ at the SFI Science Summit in Kilkenny. The winning image was selected from over 40 submissions and will appear on the front of the 2015 SFI Annual Report.

The SFI Research Image competition celebrates images captured by SFI-funded researchers during the course of their research. Matthew is a researcher in the Department of Physics and Energy at UL and has links to the Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI) at UL. His winning entry in the competition is of hydrothermally synthesized sodium niobate micro-wires. The image was taken using differential interference contrast on a light microscope, the image being about one hundred microns across. The sodium niobate micro-wires were grown using a method similar to pressure cooking called hydrothermal synthesis. The image shows the largest of the wires which have widths fractions the diameter of a human hair.

This optical image shows Sodium Niobate micro/nano wires, grown using a method similar to pressure cooking, called hydrothermal synthesis. The image shows the largest of the wires have widths fractions of the diameter of a human hair. The bright white color of the wires is due to the wires properties, refractive index. The contrast is due to the difference in refractive index between the wires and supporting glass slide. The wires are grown for novel ICT technologies, such as using light to transfer information in microchips and optical information processing. The image was taken as part of a PhD project under the supervision of Dr Ning Liu and Dr Christophe Silien at the University of Limerick.

Speaking at the SFI Science Summit, which was attended by 300 researchers, Minister English said: “Matthew’s image ‘Lightning Wires’ demonstrates that science has the capacity to surprise. His striking image allows us to see what is not visible to the naked eye and it really captures the viewer’s attention. I congratulate him on this success.”