Published on 15.06.2023

Best Scientific Image 2023: Who won this year’s contest?

Best Scientific Image 2023 - Lin Yang from HMGU with "Lung health and immunity"

In January 2023, Helmholtz Imaging called for the third time in a row for the Best Scientific Image. The winners were announced during the award ceremony on 15 June 2023 at the 3rd Annual Helmholtz Imaging Conference 2023.

In total, 162 high-quality, stunning images were submitted by the Helmholtz community. The images demonstrate the outstanding portfolio and fascinating expertise of the Helmholtz Association in imaging and their important contribution to solving major societal challenges. The images show the world from the nanoscale to the global scale and cover all research domains of Helmholtz and almost all Helmholtz Centers.

The Best Scientific Image Contest awards prizes in three categories: Jury Award, Public Choice Award and Participants’ Choice Award. While the Jury Award is presented by a high-ranking international jury of science and arts experts, the Public Choice Award and the Participants’ Choice Award are chosen by the Helmholtz Imaging community. This year, Helmholtz Imaging was able to secure prizes worth a total of € 6,000 donated by Siemens Healthineers, Zeiss and Beiersdorf.

Winning images in the category “Jury Award”

The president of the Helmholtz Association of Research Centers Prof. Dr. Wiestler announced the winners of the Best Scientific Image Contest 2023 of Helmholtz Imaging:

The winners of the Jury Award are:

1st Place
Lung health and immunity by Lin Yang (CPC/LHI, HMGU)

On this image the spectator can see the spectacular lung alveolar architecture that is composed of a complex and interconnected structure of the alveoli and capillaries, particle-laden immune cells, and tiny pores of Kohn.

Prize: 2000€ donated by Siemens Healthineers

2nd Place
Arsenic fern by Kathryn Spiers, Dennis Brückner (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY) and Antony van der Ent (Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands)

This image depicts a synchrotron micro-fluorescence computed tomographic slice (beamline P06, DESY) of the stem of an arsenic hyperaccumulating tropical fern (Pteris vittata) showing arsenic (green), X-ray Compton (red) and X-ray Absorption (blue).

Prize: 1000€ donated by Zeiss

3rd Place
Arctic Aftermath by Tilman Bucher (DLR German Aerospace Center) and Angelika Humbert (AWI Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung)

This image was created by using aerial images that monitor ice dynamics in the Arctic. This fish-shaped supraglacial lake in North-East Greenland was drained through a crack, leaving dust and sediment at the former lake ground.

Prize: 600€ donated by Beiersdorf

FOTO Prof. Dr. Wiestler awarding the Best Scientific Image 2023
Prof. Dr. Wiestler awarding the Best Scientific Image 2023

Winning images in the category “Public Choice Award”

Prof. Dr. Christian Schroer, spokesperson of Helmholtz Imaging, announced the winners of the Public Choice Award and Participants’ Choice Award of the Best Scientific Image Contest 2023:

Prof. Dr. Christian Schroer at the Helmholtz Imaging Conference 2023
Prof. Dr. Christian Schroer at the awarding ceremony of the Best Scientific Image 2023 / photo by Jörg Modrow

1st Place
Small-pyramids Harvesting Big-universe Energy Lung health and immunity by Gan Huang and Bryce Richards (KIT)

This image shows micro-pyramids that capture the universe coldness for sustainable cooling, using photonic metamaterials. The image, that was captured using a scanning electron microscope, provides insights into fundamental principles of thermodynamics and optics that govern radiation energy transfer at the microscale.

Prize: 600€ donated by Zeiss

2nd Place
Innervation of human adipose tissue by Hongcheng Mai, Jie Luo, and Ali Ertürk (Helmholtz Munich)

On this image the potential of nerve to modulate the metabolism of fatty tissue becomes visible. The research team first used the Tyrosine Hydroxylase antibody to stain the sympathetic nerve in human adipose tissue and tissue clear, and then light sheet microscopy imaging.

Prize: 400€ donated by Beiersdorf

3rd Place
Glowing Bahamian seagrasses from space by Alina Blume, Avi Putri Pertiwi, Chengfa Benjamin Lee, Spyros Christofilakos, and Dimos Traganos (DLR) and Global Seagrass Watch

This image shows glowing shallow seagrasses dancing with wave-shaped sand ripples on the Bahamian 100-million-year-old tropical limestone — on the verge of a 4000-m trench. This image is essentially a Satellite image mosaic synthesized from four years of Sentinel-2 images.

Prize: 200€ donated by Beiersdorf

Winning images in the category “Participants’ Choice Award ”

The winners of the Participants’ Choice Award of the Best Scientific Image Contest 2023 are:

1st Place
Magnesium Watercolour Whirl by Sarkis Gavras (Hereon)

This image shows a polarized light optical image of a magnesium alloy show a colourful array of small grains which have formed along the edge
of a swirl shaped pore.

Prize: 600€ donated by Zeiss

2nd Place
Fracture surface of yarn-based WfW by Alexander Lau (FZ Jülich)

On this image you can see a fracture surface of Tungsten fiber-reinforced Tungsten, based on stacked yarn-based fabrics – infiltrated and encased in a CVDTungsten matrix.

Prize: 400€ donated by Beiersdorf

3rd Place
Stranger in the mirror by Sebastian Dupraz (AG-Bradke, DZNE)

This image shows mirroring pseudo-colored mouse normal (magenta) and modified (yellow) cortical neurons electroporated in utero embryonically and analysed in the postnatal brain. Taken with Plan-Apochromat 20X/0.95NA objective using Cell Discoverer 7 (Zeiss).

Prize: 200€ donated by Beiersdorf

Best Scientific Image Contest 2023 - winners of the Jury, Public Choice and Participants Choice Awards
Winners of Best Scientific Image Contest 2023 (left to right: Hongcheng Mai, Kathryn Spiers, Sarkis Gavras, Tilman Bucher, Alexander Lau / photo by Jörg Modrow)

Helmholtz Imaging congratulates all the winners of this year’s Best Scientific Image Contest, and thanks everyone, who submitted an image this year. 20 of the best images, that the expert jury selected, will again be featured in a traveling exhibition showcasing the exciting work by Helmholtz researchers (and partners) in the different Helmholtz Centers across Germany to increase the visibility of Helmholtz’ research and its fascinating research outcomes.

Visit our gallery to see the top 20 images of 2023!

Interested in showcasing the best 20 best scientific images of Helmholtz? Reach out! (mail:

About Helmholtz Imaging
Helmholtz Imaging‘s mission is to unlock the potential of imaging science in the Helmholtz Association. Image data provide a substantial part of data being generated in scientific research. Helmholtz Imaging is the overarching platform to better leverage and make accessible to everyone the innovative modalities, methodological richness, and data treasures of the Helmholtz Association.