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The Art in Science

Product Image Crystal City

Crystal City

Ingrid Rosko, Graduate Student (Yang Laboratory), Department of Cardiac Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School

Culturing cells is commonplace in many research labs; this involves bathing cells in a complex but carefully balanced mixture of nutrients which keeps them alive and metabolically active. In our laboratory, we use cell culture techniques to create tissue-engineered blood vessels that we can use to explore vessel dynamics in the setting of various human diseases.  During a trying day of experiments, I noticed a small spot on my cell culture dish and immediately worried that the culture might be contaminated and ruined. Looking under the microscope, I was astonished to see an intricately ordered “crystal city”. A tiny drop of culture media had crystallized on the bottom of the dish, producing this beautiful pattern of branching leaves and geometric grids.