The Best Microscopic Images of 2015

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Nikon’s Small World Competition is back for another year of rounding up the best microscopic images from boffins the world over. The results are strange and beautiful insights into to world beyond our puny human vision.

The competition brings what scientists see everyday through their microscopes to the wider world. The winning entries never disappoint.

Taking first place is Ralph Grimm from Queensland, Australia, who captured this image of the eye of a honey bee covered in dandelion pollen. Magnified 120 times, it reveals the microscopic complexity of the optical system of the insect.

These Are the Best Microscopic Images of 2015

In second place, this image by Kristen Earle, Gabriel Billings, KC Huang & Justin Sonnenburg shows a section of mouse colon colonised with human microbiota. You can see the bacteria in red, the colon tissue in blue and the layer of mucus that separates them in green.

These Are the Best Microscopic Images of 2015

This alien-looking image is in fact the intake of a humped bladderwort — a kind of freshwater carnivorous plant — magnified by 100 times. It was snapped by Dr. Igor Siwanowicz from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and snatched third place.

These Are the Best Microscopic Images of 2015

In fourth place came this image of part of a lab-grown human mammary gland. It was taken by Daniel H. Miller & Ethan S. Sokol at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

These Are the Best Microscopic Images of 2015

And finally, in fifth place was this live image of the blood flow in a mouse brain, captured using a fancy technique called optical frequency domain imaging. It was captured by Dr. Giorgio Seano & Dr. Rakesh J. Jain from Harvard Medical School.

If you like what you’ve seen, you can see the rest of the top 20 images, along with other honourable mentions, over on the Nikon Small World website. [Nikon Small World]

All images by the photographer and Nikon Small World