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Grad students display engineering’s artistic side

A photograph by engineering PhD candidate Hassan Bararnia won the Image of Research competition at UIC

If there are any doubts about engineering’s artistic contributions, the recent winning artwork by mechanical and industrial engineering graduate students will put those uncertainties to rest.

A photograph by Hassan Bararnia and video by Navid Saneie were named winners in the Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Science category of UIC’s Image of Research competition.

The Image of Research is an annual interdisciplinary exhibit competition organized by the Graduate College and University Library to showcase the breadth and diversity of research at UIC. Graduate or professional degree program students are invited to submit an image or video they created along with a brief précis of how the image relates to the student’s overall research.

Bararnia captured first place with his photograph titled Oil Marbles on Water Interface. The image displays the beauty of his research that is rarely seen outside of the laboratory.

“Rainbow-type interference is a ubiquitous part of our daily life, explaining colorful oil spillage or a sunlit soap bubble. When light strikes a thin surface with thickness smaller than the wavelength of light, the reflected light waves from upper and lower boundaries of the surface can reinforce each other, giving rise to an intensified color, depending on the surface’s thickness. A thin aqueous film with a varied thickness or curvature-like bubble can lead to the formation of colorful patterns. The snapshot demonstrates how tiny oil droplets float and merge at the water-air interface,” Bararnia said.

Saneie was named the second-place winner in the Best Moving Image category for his video called Calm Before the Storm. The submission shows the behavior of individual droplets after contacting superheated microstructured surfaces.

“This video is explaining a very interesting incident at which the droplet shows an explosion behavior after it contacts a substrate with a dense pattern of fabricated microstructures,” Saneie said. “During this explosion, boiling is suppressed and the explosion is not a sign of efficient heat transfer. Recognizing this behavior is vital to avoid any possible calamities in power plants and industries in which cooling hot surfaces is critical.”

In addition to the two winners, Rukmava Chatterjee was named a finalist with his dazzling photograph called Winter ‘Fail,’ which shows the growth of a single crystal from water vapor, focusing on the underlying physical processes that govern its growth rates and structure formation.

Chatterjee is no stranger to the contest. In 2019, he won second place with a stunning photograph called Mist Heist, and he was named a finalist in 2018 for a photo entitled Mhysa, which was captured from his doctoral research on anti-icing systems.

All three students are members of the Anand Research Group, working under the direction of Assistant Professor Sushant Anand.