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2018 NUANCE Image Contest















"The Art of Science"

The NUANCE Center’s Cook Hall acts as a scientist’s laboratory and an artist’s studio. Innovative research produces images that communicate scientific discoveries as well as compelling designs. At NUANCE we understand that nanoscale research often yields awe-inspiring images that grant access into a potentially unfamiliar sub-microscopic world. We want to extend a glimpse of our student and staff researchers’ perspectives on this world to those connected, directly or indirectly, to nanotechnology fields through NUANCE’s annual scientific image contest. The NUANCE "Art of Science” image contest commemorates and unveils the talented persons behind the instrument and the aesthetics emerging beyond the science.

Open to all NUANCE instrument users, submitted images will showcase NUANCE's world-class imaging, characterization and analytical capabilities and our role in scientific advancement and discovery across the wide range of fields and disciplines. Each image is a representation of various research projects that rely on the collaborative spirit behind NUANCE's instrumentation and staff expertise.

NUANCE founding director, Prof. Vinayak Dravid, will announce the winners of the 2018 “Art of Science” Image Contest on 2018 Nanoday, 10-9 (October 9th) at NUANCE FEST in the Cook Hall, first floor atrium. The winning images will be on display in the NUANCE Image Gallery (1st floor of Cook Hall, East Side) and integral to NUANCE social media for the following year.






  • The contest is open to all students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates, scientists, professors, staff, and external users who use the NUANCE Center instruments. The images submitted must have been produced from a NUANCE Center instrument.

    • If you are a user of an instrument which produces smaller images, you may submit several images as a collage. The collage of images should represent a theme, and preferably be from the same sample.


  • Participants may submit up to three images to the contest


  • Images must not have been fundamentally altered from it's original form, or combined with other images for artistic effect. Colorization of the images is not required for submission. You may submit it grayscale, but if you’d like to colorize your images it should be limited to traditional techniques used to better display data. Colorization should not alter the images to present components that were not in the original image. If you’d like to colorize your images and aren’t sure how to do so, see “Basic Photoshop for Electron Microscopy” by Eric Miller.

  • The submitter must have been involved in the generation of the images and must obtain permission for its use in this contest from any colleagues who participated in its generation. Acknowledgment of collaborators can be credited in the written description, but only the submitter will be recognized by the judges.

  • Each entry must include a short description, of 150 words or less, written in layman's terms. This should describe the images, discuss how it was generated and explain its significance to the research project in which it was produced.

  • Each entry must include a 1-5 word title. This can be creative or more literal.


  • Images will be judged on aesthetics, originality and composition.

  • The NUANCE Center reserves the right to use any submitted image for educational and promotional purposes (with credit to the author).



  • The deadline for entries is August 31, 2018 at 5:00pm CST. No late entries will be accepted.

  • On-line voting takes place from September 5 - 27, 2018. Voting instructions will be distributed in September. 



  • General Voting (x3) – Three images getting the most votes through the NUA website

  • Social Media Winners (x2) – Two images with most ‘Likes’ on NUA Facebook page

  • NUANCE Staff Pick (x1) – Images selected by the experts at NUA “Images will be judged on aesthetics, originality and composition.”

  • Director’s Cut (x1) - NUA founding director, Prof. Vinayak Dravid chooses his favorite!

  • Honorable mentions



NUANCE founding director, Prof. Vinayak Dravid, will announce the winners at the NUANCE Center Image Gallery Reception on October 9.


Gift card prizes will be awarded to submitters of the top images. 

  • Grand prize  - $100

  • Second place price - $75

  • Third place prize - $50

  • Honorable Mention prizes 



  1. Your first and last name

  2. Your appointment (graduate student, scientist, postdoctoral fellow…)

  3. Your affiliation (Northwestern University, Rubicon, Argonne….)

  4. Your department, if applicable (Materials Science, Chemistry…)

  5. Your research group, if applicable (Dravid research group, Odom research group…)

  6. Title of your image

  7. A short description of your image (150 words or less), written in layman’s terms, saved as a PDF file.

  8. Instrument used to produce image.

  9. If you are a user of an instrument which produces smaller images, you may submit several images as a collage.  The collage of images should represent a theme, and preferably be from the same sample.

    Image must be submitted in JPEG or PNG, and should the highest-resolution you have available (300 dpi or higher is best). TIFF files will not be accepted.

  10. Submit image AND PDF file by email to NU drop box via this email address:

  • The electronic files should be saved in the following name format:
  • LastName_FirstInitial_DateofSubmissionMMDDYYYY
  • Example: Wildcat_W_05152018



If you have any questions about the rules or submitting your image, please feel free to contact NUANCE Center at