MechSE researchers win global Nikon video competition
Kazi Fazle Rabbi, a graduate student in MechSE, and Dr. Xiao Yan, a postdoctoral scholar, were the first-place winners of this year’s globally competitive Nikon Photo Contest in the Small World in Motion (SWIM) category, with their video “Internal flow dynamics of coalescing micro-droplets (~200x slower speed).”
The Nikon Small World competition has two categories, for still images which began in 1975, and for videos and time-lapse videos, which began in 2011. The winners are chosen based on four main criteria: creativity/originality, informational content, technical proficiency, and artistic and visual impact. The top prize in each category is $3,000.
Both Rabbi and Yan work with Associate Professor Nenad Miljkovic in his Energy Transport Research Laboratory. “We are developing advanced functionalized surfaces that are repellant to liquids (water, alcohol or petroleum). We visualize the micro-droplet dynamics (droplet condensation, coalescence, jumping, or freezing) on these surfaces to characterize them,” said Rabbi and Yan.
Their eye-catching video of micro-droplets (made of 80% water and 20% ethanol) coalescing was one of many that they use often in presenting their research. To capture the video, which was submitted at ~200x slower speed and 20x (Objective Lens Magnification), a high-speed camera with a microscopic lens was used to capture the droplets, which were created using a frequency-controlled micro-droplet dispenser. The researchers said creating such a perfect shot took a lot of meticulous work, including considering the ideal lighting (transmitted light microscopy) and staging to make it visually appealing. Additionally, the surface the droplets in the video are reacting to is one of Rabbi and Yan’s own design.
“This year’s movies, and our winning video in particular, captures the spirt of Nikon Small World in Motion on the competition’s 10th anniversary,” said Eric Flem, Communications Manager, Nikon Instruments. “The winning video illustrates how highly sophisticated imaging techniques and systems can help us see and better understand common concepts as well as lead to improvements to technologies and products we all use in our everyday lives.”
Rabbi and Yan have participated in the MechSE Art of Science Competition in previous years but decided to expand to a global platform this year—with an impressive successful first attempt.
This year’s competition is the 10-year anniversary of the SWIM competition, and the prize includes a week-long trip to Japan to visit a Nikon lens manufacturing factory.
Rabbi and Yan said they are very excited about their upcoming research. “We are developing energy-efficient surfaces that you can instantly defrost within a few seconds. This is important for winter dominant areas (as in Illinois) where frosting is a major concern. Imagine not having to wait to defrost your car’s windshield or not having transportation delays due to frosting on planes or railways.”