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Researchers Create Performance Art from Temperature-Induced Material Phase Change Microscopy Images

Researchers at Art-Science production company, Ohme, in Brussels, have created a choreographed audio-visual performance, ‘Tales of Entropy’, following the physical changes of organic materials as temperature changes (from crystal, to liquid crystal, to liquid), using Linkam temperature controlled stages.

Image Credit: Linkam

Founded in 2017 by a team of engineers and culture professionals, Ohme is an organisation developing new practices of scientific mediation, interdisciplinary artistic creation and innovation, through collaborative practices. It brings together scientists and artists, with the aim of presenting science in new, more accessible ways to a wider audience.

The experiments for ‘Tales of Entropy’ were carried out by Guillaume Schweicher, FNRS Postdoctoral Fellow at the Laboratory of Polymer Chemistry, Université Libre de Bruxelles, and set to an ambient soundscape created by Brussels-based artist Juanita, under the artistic direction of Nicolas Klimis. Guillaume used a polarized optical microscope and video setup along with a Linkam temperature control chamber to carefully adjust the temperature conditions of liquid crystals, capturing video as the thermodynamic conditions evolved. The video follows a 1mm2 region of the sample as it evolves and phase-changes from crystal to liquid-crystal, to liquid, before recrystallisation and reorientation.

Guillaume pursued a PhD studying the alignment of organic crystals within a thermal gradient and has since published over 35 peer reviewed articles. His current research interests focus on developing novel organic and hybrid semiconducting materials for greener and more sustainable electronics. He commented: “The use of organic and hybrid materials as semiconductors for electronics have great potential, not least in terms of their environmental impact – they are easily removeable/reusable by dissolving the adhering substance, which makes them better for recycling compared to the inorganic electronic industry.”

In the course of his work, Guillaume has often used Linkam temperature control stages, including the THMS600 and GS350, to analyse samples. He uses polarised microscopy to obtain images of single crystals – but finds that during the analysis in searching for the correct crystals, he observes many images that, while not suitable for scientific analysis, are beautiful from an artistic point of view. He commented: “In particular, the cracks and contours on the crystal and liquid crystal surface are highlighted by the polarised microscopy technique and produce an array of colours. Showing the simple visual beauty of the physical chemistry in an artistic sense leaves room for thought and technical discussion beyond the realms of the performance. I hope we can help to highlight the bright future vision of greener chemistry and electronics.”

Robert Gurney, Applications Scientist, Linkam added: “We are always excited to see the amazing images our users capture showing how their samples evolve with changing temperature and environmental conditions. From freeze-dried vaccines to high-temperature phase changes, researchers have taken amazing microscopy images to show how their samples physically changed. The work by Ohme is incredibly unique and brings the beauty of material science to a new audience. The combination of science and art is creative and awe-inspiring and we hope to be able to watch one of the live performances of ‘Tales of Entropy’ in the not too distant future.”

Ohme shared the debut performance of its second iteration of ‘Tales of Entropy’ at La Vallée in Brussels in May 2021. The production, as part of a Das Haus residency, brings a new dimension to the performance, bringing intimate scenography designed by Studio Marie Douel, in collaboration with media artist Yannick Jacquet and Flemish string quarter ensemble Boho Strings.

Source: https://www.linkam.co.uk/

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