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Super Tiny Giraffe

When Shaahin Amini analyzed nickel, aluminum and carbon mix using scanning electron microscopy, the UC Riverside graduate student was surprised to see a tiny giraffe staring back! The image was so good it won the Materials Research Society's 2012 Science as Art competition:

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image depicts a baby giraffe formed within a jungle of Ni-Al-C dendrites. As the molten alloy was being solidified inside a graphitic crucible, the melt was decanted, leaving behind a little dendrite wetted by a thin molten blanket. As the jungle got colder, the blanket froze and rejected carbon which eventually crystallized as a graphite cover. Upon further cooling, the graphitic cover wrinkled, due to its thermal expansion coefficient mismatch with metallic substrate, creating a faceted network of creases resembling the familiar skin patches of a giraffe. - Shaahin Amini and Reza Abbaschian, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California Riverside

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