Vitamin C Crystals - The Magic of Polarized Light Microscopy
The winning image in the category of Education of the 2022 ZEISS Microscopy Image Contest was submitted by Dr. Robert Berdan of Science & Art Multimedia, Calgary, Canada. It shows a vitamin C crystals, acquired with a ZEISS Axioscope light microscope.
Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Humans, unlike most animals, are unable to synthesize vitamin C endogenously, so it is an essential dietary component. It is a nutrient the body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in the immune system and the body's healing process. It helps protect cells against the effects of free radicals
Winning Image: Vitamin C Crystals
Acquired with a ZEISS Axioscope light microscope
Vitamin C Crystals in Polarized Light
Vitamin C, when dissolved in water and ethanol and then dried on a microscope slide, often forms large, beautiful crystals that can be viewed with polarized light microscopy. This image has been acquired with a ZEISS Axio Scope.A1 light microscope.
For Berdan, the main challenge is composing an artful image and he believes that seeing and art can lead to discoveries. "Louis Pasteur for instance was a painter while growing up and early in his career he discovered L and D Enantiomers of Tartaric acid found in wine and grapes. Pasteur’s artful insight helped him see the two similar but different shaped crystals which had an important impact on chemistry", he explains.
"Sometimes vitamin C crystals form in large sheets and other times the crystals are isolated and can appear star-shaped and sun-like“, describes Berdan one of his favorite samples.
I have been fascinated with microscopes, photography and singled-celled organisms since I was a teenager. Most of my photomicrographs are now used for education.
At a regular basis, Dr. Berdan gives presentations at public libraries, camera clubs, nature clubs, at the University of Calgary and through private workshops in his home laboratory. He also offers free instruction to teenagers with a microscope. "I usually bring paper microscopes as gifts for the kids that answer some easy questions at the end of my presentations", says Berdan. He also provides pictures to the Calgary Science Center. And his website features hundred of images on microscopy. At the moment, he is working on developing a technique to make beautiful crystal images from wine and on another project with National Geographic. Stay tuned!
About the Contest
For the second year in a row, ZEISS celebrates the work of researchers using microscopy in various application fields with the ZEISS Microscopy Image Contest. ZEISS users from all around the globe submitted almost 1,000 fascinating entries. The 2022 ZEISS Microscopy Image Contest was open from April 1 to May 15.
A selection of the images will be included in the ZEISS Microscopy Calendar 2023.