2014 EM Image Contest Grand Prize Winner

Francisco Rangel, National Institute of Technology- INT / MCTI, Brazil

Thermo Fisher Scientific is proud to present our 2014 Image Contest Grand Prize Winner: Francisco Rangel! His "Expanded Vermiculite" won Francisco 2 round-trip tickets to either London or Washington DC, a 3-night hotel stay, a $300 travel stipend, and 2 tickets to see Mysteries of the Unseen World.

Expanded Vermiculite
This SEM image shows exfoliated vermiculite, which is a hydrated magnesium-aluminum-iron silicate. The majority of applications call for vermiculite in its exfoliated form, created when the flakes are heated rapidly at a temperature of 900° C or higher. The water flashes into steam, and the flakes expand into accordion-like particles.

Image Inspiration:

The idea to post the image to the contest came from a research colleague, Marcelo Ferreira de Oliveira Leão, Ph.D., of Polymeric Materials Laboratory (LAMAP), who I consider responsible for this award. He works with vermiculite as a constituent of their nanocomposites in INT's research projects.

Vermiculite is a hydrated magnesium-aluminum-iron silicate. The majority of applications call for vermiculite in its exfoliated form, performed when the flakes are heated rapidly at a temperature of 900° C or higher. The water flashes into steam, and the flakes expand into accordion-like particles. The color, which can range from black and various shades of brown to yellow for the raw flakes, changes to gold or bronze. (The false color we obtained for the picture was due to mixing secondary electrons and backscattered electrons). Vermiculite is a very versatile mineral because of its thermal stability and inertness. It is clean to handle, odorless, and mold-resistant. It is also sterile due to the high temperature to which it is subjected in production. In lightweight plaster and concrete, vermiculite provides good thermal insulation. Also, vermiculite can absorb such liquids as fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides, which can then be transported as free-flowing solids.

About the Winner:

Francisco Rangel was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He attended the Technical School Pandiá Calógeras in Volta Redonda, where he studied to be a mechanical technician. He is an expert in scanning electron microscopy, has experience in elemental analysis by EDS (Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy) and WDS (Wavelength Dispersive Spectroscopy), ESEM (Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope), and AFM (Atomic Force Microscope). His professional experience was gained working in renowned research centers linked to the steel industry, universities, and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI). Since 1996, Francisco has always worked in laboratories focused on multidisciplinary research, where he gained experience working with a wide variety of materials in SEM, including metals, ceramics, polymers, composites, and organics. Francisco currently works at the National Institute of Technology-INT / MCTI, in the Characterization Center for Nanotechnology Materials and Catalysis (CENANO), where he provides technical support to researchers and technologists of institutes and universities that have projects in partnership with the INT. With an advanced analytical capacity available to its customers, CENANO utilizes three Thermo Scientific microscopes: a QUANTA 450 FEG Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), an Inspect 50s Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), and (currently being installed) a Tecnai Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), making this lab one of the most up-to-date in the State of Rio de Janeiro Francisco has 4 children (2 sons and 2 daughters). His hobbies are jazz, wine, beer, movies, and books.

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