A remarkable picture of a single glowing atom just won a photography prize - here are the most eye-catching images from the competition

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A remarkable picture of a single glowing atom just won a photography prize - here are the most eye-catching images from the competition

Building blocks for a lighter future 3rd Innovation

Sam Catchpole Smith/University of Nottingham/EPSRC

The third-place winner in the "Innovation" category depicts exceptionally strong aluminum structures created with a technique called selective laser melting.

At the most basic level, everything is made of tiny atoms.

As a way to recognize that fundamental fact, it seems appropriate that a stunning image depicting one single positively-charged strontium atom just won a prestigious photography award.

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The image, which shows the atom trapped by electric fields, was the overall winner of this year's science photography competition put on by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council of the UK.

The photo, taken by David Nadlinger from the University of Oxford, actually shows the light particles re-emitted by the trapped atom, as you can see in the photo below. (That light is hundreds of times larger than the atom itself and can be captured in a visible shot using a digital camera, though you can't see anything the size of an atom without a powerful microscope.)

It's not the only stunning shot from the competition, which also includes photos of the fascinating fluid patterns on a bubble of soap, the structures that cover a butterfly's wing, and a robot learning to take a selfie.

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Here's a selection of the winning images.