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Caffeine Crystals at 40 Microns

There’s a good chance you or your office mates are knocking back coffee this morning; thanks to a submission in the Wellcome Image Awards you can take a very personal look at the crystals of caffeine that make your coffee impart that morning buzz.

The Wellcome Image Awards is a yearly contest focused on the submission of beautiful high-maginification scientific images. The goal is to create a collection of images every year that help the public get closer to the microscopic world around them and the science that drives it. The above image is a electron-microscope scan courtesy of Annie Cavanagh and David McCarthy:

This false-coloured scanning electron micrograph shows caffeine crystals. Caffeine is a bitter, crystalline xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant drug. In plants, caffeine functions as a defence mechanism. Found in varying quantities in the seeds, leaves and fruit of some plants, caffeine acts as a natural pesticide that paralyses and kills certain insects feeding on the plant. The main crystals of caffeine were 400-500 microns long; however, this crystal group formed on the end of the larger crystal and measures around 40 microns in length.

For more images of things like seedlings, cells, crystals, and more, hit up the link below to check out the 2012 submission gallery.

Wellcome Image Awards 2012 [via Neatorama]

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/19/12

Comments (4)

  1. r

    ya, that’s about right. That’s kinda’ what I feel like after four espresso

  2. nedly

    I do not know a lot about crystallography but- A crystal structure with tendril-like filaments?

  3. Stephan

    I LOVE coffee!

  4. Dorothy

    So that’s why it stains my teeth!

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