Promoting chemistry to the public – Photochimica 2017

Photochimica 2017 was last year’s edition of the photography contest organised by the European Young Chemists’ Network (EYCN). The EYCN is the young chemists division of EuCheMS and promotes chemistry around Europe by organising events like Photochimica and the video contest “Chemistry Rediscovered”. 35 photos from eleven countries from around the world were submitted in the competition for the best contribution (Austria, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, UK, and USA). The photos were judged by young chemists from the Science Team and Board of the EYCN. Further, a professional photographer from Poland, Wojciech Bibel, was part of the jury. The jury awarded four prizes and a Mention Award.

Photo “12.3” by Thomas Binns (USA): Tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen consisting of one proton and two neutrons, has a half-life of 12.3 years. When sealed within a vial coated with a radioluminescent phosphor, the light produced due to tritium’s beta radiation can be used to embellish keychains, illuminate exit signs, and frighten toy hazmat specialists.

The theme of last year’s edition of Photochimica, “Radioactivity”, was chosen to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Maria Skłodowska-Curie, arguably the most famous female scientist in the world. Maria Skłodowska-Curie changed the way of thinking about women in society. Although Becquerel discovered radioactivity, it was only the discovery of radium by Maria Skłodowska-Curie that made it possible to create a science about radioactivity, which was the basis of modern views on the structure of matter. This fundamental discovery has led to many more developments in science and society. Medicine, chemistry, and physics were the areas that first used the discovery of radioactivity, soon joined by geophysics, astrophysics and other fields of science and industry.

The first prize of the 2017 photo contest was awarded to Thomas Binns (USA) for his photo “12.3” submitted to the category: Photography in Chemistry (see below). The photo was judged by the photographer Wojciech Bibel as: “Interesting, inventive and ingenious work, made very well technically”. Other prizes were awarded to Barbara Math (Austria, 2nd) “Eating Radioactivity: Mushrooms”, Dusan Kolarski (Netherlands, 2nd) “Our Universe”, Sophie Clarenco (France, 3rd) “Thou shall burn” and a Mention Award to Leila Zouridi (Greece) “Beauty and the beam”.

All submitted photos are available on the EYCN website:

 Hanna Makowska, EYCN Science Team Leader
Yacintha Vermeer, EYCN Science Team Member