Cysteine Rose: Our winning image shows a crystal of cysteine produced by drying a highly concentrated solution of cysteine on a silicon nitrite substrate.
Cysteine is a semi-essential proteinogenic amino acid. The thiol side chain in the cysteine is a quite useful feature and often promotes functionalization with a metal surface. My work involves the fabrication of nanostructures exploited to create new biological sensors. The cysteine is a useful chemical component for testing molecular sensors with a well-known chemistry with important biological implications.
Several dilutions of cysteine in high pure water have been studied. The saturate solution of cysteine, once it is dried, produces a precipitate of crystals with a peculiar shape. The cysteine aggregates with spiral leaves with sizes below 20µm. During the analysis of a silicon sample that had those cysteine crystals on it, I noticed an aggregation with a rose shape. The amazing similarity to a real flower inspired me to take an image for the contest. The image was modified with false color to increase the affinity and memory of a rose. Most of my work has been performed in a clean room, and in my picture, I am wearing the clean room outfit.