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Luxembourg National Research Fund

FNR Science Image Competition: This is plasma


The FNR Science Image Competition aims to show the beauty of research and science outreach in Luxembourg. Marta Ferreira’s ‘This is Plasma’ is one of the 2022 ‘distinction’ images in the Object of Study category. Learn more about this fascinating plasma image and how it was created.

“This is plasma” by Marta Ferreira, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)

Plasma is known as the fourth state of matter distinct from the solid, liquid, and gaseous states. It can be defined as a soup of positively charged particles and negatively charged particles in roughly equal proportions, which makes it overall electrically neutral. It is widely present in nature – in fact it makes up 99% of matter in the visible universe. Here on earth, it is for example responsible for the beautiful colours of aurora borealis.

In this image, the multi-coloured shapes represent plasma created in a laboratory by physical vapour deposition. This technique is important in the production of nanoparticles of around 5 nm as well as hard coatings for cutting tools used in industry.

The image was created by PhD candidate Marta Ferreira from the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), who works on the development of new nanocomposite coatings. Plasma is a big deal in this research area, playing a key role in scientists’ efforts to create, for example, new types of coatings for different tools. Plasma is at the heart of dozens of scientific research fields. Scientists use different methods to create plasma for a range of uses. Plasma is created by adding energy to a gas so that some of its electrons leave its atoms.

About the FNR Science Image Competition – discover the exhibition!

The exhibition can also be discovered until the end of 2022 in Luxembourg City/Limpertsberg, in front of LGL

The FNR Science Image Competition ran for the first time in 2020, on the occasion of the FNR’s 20th birthday. Now in its third edition, the 2022 awarded and ‘distinction’ images – along with the ‘Prix du Public’ awarded in collaboration with media partner RTL, can be discovered at an exhibition at the Luxembourg Science Center from 29 June until the end of September 2022. From Mid-September 2022 you can also discover the exhibition in front of Lycée de Garçons in Luxembourg-Limpertsberg (Place Auguste Laurent) – until the end of the year.

Categories in the FNR Science Image Competition

1) Object of study: From the microcosm to the macrocosm, images of the research object captured by scientists using a camera or generated by a computer.

2) Scientists in action: Photographs of research in practice, presented by and featuring those conducting it.

3) Places and tools: Photographs of the surroundings in which scientists take measurements, generate data, share their passion, make discoveries and of the instruments they use while doing so.

4) Science outreach activities: Photographs of an activity where researcher and science communicators dialogue with the school children, students or the wider public or of interactive projects for school children, students and the wider public, giving them an overview of science and research and/or scientists’ research methods.


Discover the stories behind more images from the 2022 FNR Science Image Competition