Chemical romance: Dazzling photographs showcase the rainbow-coloured results of mixing compounds up close

  • [2014-10-21]
     
  • Images were created by scientists from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Anhui, China
  • They show a dazzling array of colours and textures created when chemicals clash
  • Titled 'Beautiful Chemistry,' the project made use of specialist photography equipment and visual effects experts
  • Scientists carried out small-scale experiments before shooting the best possible images of the prettiest reactions

     

     

    These colourful photographs may look like works of modern art, but they are really actually close-ups of chemical reactions.

    They show reactions taking place after acid is dripped onto a flower, or when a copper sulphate solution was mixed with sodium hydroxide, to create copper sulphate precipitate, which looks like a brilliantly blue swimming pool.

    The images showcase the dazzling array of colours and textures created when chemicals clash.

    These colourful photographs may look like works of modern art, but they are really actually close-ups of chemical reactions. This image shows purple cabbage being dipped into hydrochloric acid. The acid solution causes the cabbage to change colour from purple to red 

    The images were created by a group of scientists from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Anhui, China.

    Titled 'Beautiful Chemistry,' the project is the brainchild of Yan Liang, an associate professor at the university.

    Professor Yan became fascinated by chemical reactions during his studies and joined with two other professors at USTC in February to share their love of colourful potions by taking photographs.

    This photo shows basic copper sulphate precipitate (blue) which was formed after copper sulphate solution was added to a solution of sodium hydroxide 

    This 'wishbone' flower had sodium hydroxide solution dropped onto its petals, which made them change colour from purple to yellow 

     

    This was one of the reactions they chose - the formation of ice blue copper sulphate crystals 

    With help from Tsinghua University Press and visual effects experts, Professor Yan, Professor Xiangang Tao and Dr Wei Huang researched which reactions would look the most eye-catching on camera.

    The scientists then carried out small-scale experiments before shooting the best possible images of the prettiest reactions.

    The trio upload the work to their website - including reactions such as precipitation, crystallisation, bubbling and metal displacement – where they proved popular.

    This photo shows cobalt chloride crystals growing in a solution of sodium silicate, which includes compounds used in drain cleaner 

     

    This reaction was made when nickel hydroxide precipitate (the green liquid) formed after nickel sulphate was added to a solution of sodium hydroxide 

     

    He shot reactions such as this one - silver chloride precipitate (white) which formed after silver nitrate was added to a solution of sodium chloride 

    Professor Yan, avoids working with reactions that could potentially be hazardous.

    "I was always fascinated by the beauty of chemistry - both the colourful chemical reactions and the invisible molecular structures," he said.

    "The first step was doing research and selecting the potential reactions that could be beautiful then we conducted experiments and make sure these reactions were indeed worth filming."

    This photo may look like a strange underwater scene, or even an alien landscape, but it is zinc reacting with copper sulphate solution to form red copper. The sulphate solution is used so much by the scientists because of its beautiful blue colour 

     

    This image shows an eggshell reacting with hydrochloric acid to produce carbon dioxide bubbles, which cling to the shell 

     

    Professor Yan said: 'During experiments, something unexpected could happen and we ended up getting some extra beautiful shots.’ This is one of them. It shows purple cabbage being dipped into sodium hydroxide solution, which causes it to change colour 

    "Once we found the proper reactions, the third step was to optimise both the reaction parameters and our shooting techniques and make sure we get the perfect images."

    "However, during experiments, something unexpected could happen and we ended up getting some extra beautiful shots." (Mail Onlie)

    The experts chose which reactions they wanted to record carefully, making sure that they would appear as eye-catching as possible, using specialist equipment. Here, green fluorescent droplets are formed by mixing the chemicals inside a glow stick 

     

    This image may look like an egg attack, associated with trick-or-treaters at Halloween. But in fact, it shows cadmium sulphide precipitate (in yellow) being made after cadmium nitrate was added to a solution of sodium sulphide 

    Titled 'Beautiful Chemistry,' the project was the brainchild of Yan Liang, an associate professor at the university. This photo shows basic copper sulphate precipitate (blue) which was formed after copper sulphate solution was added to a solution of sodium hydroxide. 

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  • This article came from News Center of USTC.