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Title: Nano Nemo on the Water
Subject: Nano-sized layers of Ti2C particles representing the imaginary Nemo character in Pixar's "Finding Nemo" animation. Ti2C synthesized by selective etching and is a promising electrode material for energy storage devices
Credit: Armin VahidMohammadi, Auburn University
Method/Instrument: JEOL JSM-7000F.

The first thing one notices about the images that Armin Vahid Mohammadi has created is that they are visually striking. Details and shapes emerge from the background, bearing a strong resemblance to animation characters, as in two images that were awarded top prizes in 2016 and 2017.

More recently, synthesized Ti2C particles in a micrograph were colorized to resemble Nemo in the Pixar film Finding Nemo. Entitled “Nano Nemo on the Water,” it was selected as the winner of the Grand Prize SEM Image category in JEOL’s image contest for 2017. An earlier colored SEM image of layered Ti2C MXene showing similarities to the face of Lord Voldemort, a character in the Harry Potter movie series, won first place in the 2016 MRS Fall “Science as Art” contest.

Combining art and science is a passion for Armin, who is doing his PhD studies in Materials Engineering at Auburn University in Alabama.

First the science.

“I do research on developing new materials based on a family of 2D materials called MXenes for batteries and other energy storage devices such as supercapacitors. We have recently shown the promising application of MXenes as cathode materials for next-generation aluminum batteries in a paper published in ACS Nano. Hopefully, by using other metals such as aluminum in the future we can find safer and cheaper alternatives for the current Lithium-ion batteries,” he says.

Then the art.

“Generally, I am interested in computer graphics and since my early years in middle school I became a professional user of many different graphics programs. For these types of artworks that I do, the interest basically comes from different objects and particles in the SEM images that resemble real-life characters. Coloring these types of micro/nano-scale images gives life to them and makes them more understandable for general audiences.”

Armin first encountered the SEM as an undergraduate, then became more familiar with its use as a graduate student studying morphology of nanoparticles. He now uses the JEOL JSM-7000F SEM regularly at Auburn.

Building on his research he hopes to develop a real product that is beneficial to human life. “I believe as an engineer and a scientist, by only pushing forward to understand more without finding practical applications which can result in an improvement in people’s lives, we will not be successful. The best would be a direct transfer of science to engineering products and vice versa, which is always hard to achieve. This is the main goal for me, to apply my knowledge toward creating a real product that is much better and more efficient than other similar products, like a better battery.”



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