Bubbling plasma reactor for water treatment

Loughborough success in national science photography competition

Three Loughborough University PhD students have picked up awards in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Science Photography competition 2017.

3D printed soft gripper lifting a lightbulb

The competition, now in its fourth year, highlights pictures that show research in action across five categories: Eureka & Discovery, Equipment & Facilities, People & Skills, Innovation, and Weird & Wonderful.

It received over 100 entries which were drawn from researchers in receipt of EPSRC funding.

Winning first place in the Eureka & Discovery category, Khaled Elgeneidy of the School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering submitted an image depicting a 3D printed soft gripper programmed to gently lift a lightbulb.

Describing the work, he said: “Soft robotic devices, such as this entirely 3D printed gripper, have major advantages when it comes to grasping objects that are delicate and have complex geometry.

“Instead of requiring sophisticated sensing and control, the soft nature of the gripper allows it to conform to the shape of the lightbulb and lift it gently when supplied with pressurised air.”

Alexander Wright of Loughborough’s Chemical Engineering department took third place in the Equipment & Facilities category with his image of a bubbling plasma reactor for water treatment.

He said, “I’ve always thought of the reactors as rather eye catching and with the help of a number of colleagues we managed to show them off in an artistic style.”

Eleonora Brembilla, who is part of the Building Energy Research Group at the School of Civil and Building Engineering, won third place in the Weird & Wonderful category.

The photo was taken in a black room without windows to calibrate the equipment for research being conducted to quantify the daylight access in school buildings. However, the team forgot to turn the room's lights off, leading to the 'starry ceiling' effect.

Eleonora commented: “Sometimes you can make a mistake during a lab experiment, which is frustrating as you need to run it all over again.

“But there are occasions in which a mistake leads to a new discovery. Or, at least, it leaves you with an interesting photo!”

Image of lab experiment showing a starry ceiling effect

Professor Tom Rodden, EPSRC’s Deputy Chief Executive, congratulated the winners: “The quality of entries into our competition demonstrates that EPSRC-funded researchers are keen to show the world how beautiful and interesting science and engineering can be.

“These stunning images are a great way to engage the public with the research they fund, and inspire everyone to take an interest in science and engineering.”

The prize-winning images are available to download from the EPSRC website.