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Chemistry in pictures

February 20, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 8

Crystal closeup

Microscope images of silver dendrites.
Credit: James Hope and his pupils at Millfield
James Hope, a science teacher at Millfield in Street, England, wanted to show his students that minerals such as table salt aren’t the only substances that form crystals. So Hope instructed his students to cut a sliver of copper about 1 mm wide and put it on a microscope slide with a drop of 0.1 M silver nitrate solution. The students watched the piece of copper at 100× magnification and saw fractal patterns of silver crystals sprouting from the copper’s surface. What they were observing was silver(I) ions in the solution picking up electrons from the copper metal to produce silver metal, which plated out as a crystal. At the same time, copper ions entered the solution, turning it blue.—MANNY MORONE
Submitted by James Hope and his pupils at Millfield

Sweet crystal

A large colorless crystal sits on a maple syrup lid. It is larger than a U.K. £1 coin.
Credit: Ross Forgan (@forganross)
University of Glasgow chemist Ross Forgan discovered this 19-g crystal—presumably of sucrose—inside an old bottle of maple syrup. “The syrup was actually in an opaque plastic container and sat in the cupboard for a few years,” he tells C&EN. “I could hear something rattling inside, but only when I went to throw it away did I actually have a look. The block of crystals was so big that I had to cut the bottle open to get it out!” For scale, he photographed it with a U.K. £1 coin, which has a diameter of 2.25 cm.—Jyllian Kemsley
Submitted by Ross Forgan (@forganross)

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