Who can participate?

• POLYMAT affiliated PhD students.
• PhD Students that have been awarded in previous editions are not entitled to participate.
• Deadline for submission of works: January 31, 2021.
• Please send the document in Word or pdf addressed to:

Information to be submitted

Please do use the Word template that must include:
• 1 Photograph of a polymeric material detailing the type of image  (SEM, TEM or others) and the scale, as well as a detailed description of the sample preparation.
• Project Thesis summary (200 words max.).
• Title and description of the photograph in the context of the PhD/Project and detailed description of the preparation of the sample for obtaining the picture.
• PhD Supervisor (s)
• Printed copy of the document.

Evaluation criteria

  • Relationship between the project/thesis and description of the picture and detailed procedure for preparation of the sample (25%)
  • Esthetics of the picture (25%)
  • Quality of the picture (25%)
  • Difficulty in obtaining the photograph (25%)

The first two criteria will be evaluated by the board of POLYMAT institute and third and fourth will be evaluated by Dr. Dolores Martin and Dr. Ana Martinez from the AFM and TEM SGIker units of the University.


•  Registration, round trip and accommodation for an international conference selected in agreement with your supervisor up to 1,500€.

2020 Photography contest winner

Honeycomb-like microstructured materials for mechanically strong polymer films. Author: Ms. Nerea Jiménez

TEM micrograph of a cross-section of an acrylic polymer film for coatings applications. In the image, the darkest component forms a honeycomb microstructure around the lightest phase. The dark phase was composed of tannic acid, a naturally occurring polyphenol, and the light phase was consisting of poly(N-vinyl pyrrolidone-co-butyl acrylate-co-methyl methacrylate) (P(NVP/BA/MMA) polymer particles produced by seeded semibatch emulsion polymerization. For the preparation of the sample, 5% based on polymer of tannic acid was added as an aqueous solution to the P(NVP/BA/MMA) polymer dispersion. The blend was stirred for 30 minutes, cast into a silicone mould and dried for 7 days at 55 % relative humidity and 25 ºC. The resulting polymer film was cut employing a microtome and stained with ruthenium tetraoxide (RuO4) in order to increase the contrast of the aromatic rings of tannic acid. The staining process allowed the observation of the honeycomb microstructure formed by tannic acid around the polymer particles. The honeycomb microstructure was formed as a result of the strong hydrogen bonds between the aromatic hydroxyl groups of tannic acid and the amide groups of the pyrrolidones present in the polymer, which promoted the homogeneous distribution of tannic acid around the polymer particles. This conclusion was made by comparing the microstructure of the materials prepared without the pyrrolidone: The tannic acid formed aggregates instead of the continuous honeycomb microstructure. The P(NVP/BA/MMA)/tannic acid hydrogen bonded materials presented greater Young’s modulus and yield stress as a result of the hard honeycomb structure. The high stiffness presented by these materials make them excellent candidates for applications that require hard polymer films and opens the way for the complete replacement of solventborne coatings.

2019 Photography contest winner

Description: AFM phase image of a double crystalline PE494.9-b-PEO515.2 diblock copolymer. The long edge on lamellae in the center of the image correspond to the polyethylene block crystals. To the top and the bottom of the image, flat on lamellae can be observed, which can correspond to both PE and PEO block crystals. The thin vertical short lamellae on the middle of the image (looking like fish bones) are most probably poly(ethylene oxide) lamellae. Author: Ms. Eider Matxinandiarena

2018 Photography contest winner

2018 Awarded picture: "Centipede" by Mr. Jesus Alvaro Iregui. Description: AFM phase image of an electrospun PCL-DGEBA nanofiber. Due to the spinning process, it is observed a high degree of crystalline orientation

4th Scientific Photography Award

Awarded picture: AFM phase image of the top surface of a dried film of latex with particles polymerized in presence of cellulose nanocrystals. Elodie Limousin

3rd Scientific Photography Award

"The eyes": Double crystalline nascent spherulite. AFM micrographs of a PEO-b-PCL diblock copolymer taken at a room temperature by Ms. Jordana Palacios.

1st Scientific Photography Award

Awarded Picture:
Awarded Picture: "SEM micrograph of a dispersion of fluorinated polymer particles" by Ms. Ana Belén López

First Edition Photographs presented Pdf version