University of Limerick’s Lightning Wires

“Lightning Wires,” by Matthew Gleeson.

By Irish America Staff
December / January 2016

Matthew Gleeson, postgraduate researcher at the University of Limerick (UL), is the winner of Science Foundation Ireland’s Research Image of the Year competition for his picture “Lightning Wires.” The winning image was selected from over 40 submissions and will appear on the cover of the 2015 SFI Annual Report.

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, which have widths fractions of the diameter of a human hair. The bright white color of the wires is due to the wires’ 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 Ph.D. project under the supervision of Dr Ning Liu and Dr Christophe Silien at the University of Limerick.

Speaking at the recent SFI Science Summit in Kilkenny, which was attended by 300 researchers, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien 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.” ♦

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