Captured in false-color scanning electron micrography, these caffeine crystals are just 40 microns in length. ANNIE CAVANAGH AND DAVID MCCARTHY via Wellcome Images

Wellcome Images owns one of the most amazing collections of scientific imagery–mostly pertaining to the medical and biological sciences–spanning everything from scanning electron micrography to X-rays to conventional photographs of things the average photog doesn’t often come across (like the inside of the human cranium). And once a year, the Wellcome Image Awards take the cream off the top of this incredibly rich collection, pooling the best new images in medical and bio-science in one place.

Click to launch the photo gallery

Winners are selected based on both scientific merit and artistic appeal, though aesthetics certainly seem to be front and center when scrolling through the complete collection of 16 winning images. These images bring viewers face to face with moth flies, miniscule caffeine crystals, and very, very young chickens–cancer cells, cell division, and lavender leaves.

Click though the gallery link above for a quick spin through a few of our favorites. The complete list of winners can be found at The Wellcome Collection’s site (or on display at Wellcome’s brick and mortar headquarters in London through the end of the year.

Wellcome Images

Cranium (Interior)

This image (the 2012 overall winner) was taken during an intracranial procedure to attach a surface electrode to the brain of an epilepsy patient. Note: this image has been rotated 90 degrees here to fit our image format. It can be viewed in its original vertical orientation here.

Caffeine Crystals

Captured in false-color scanning electron micrography, these caffeine crystals are just 40 microns in length.

Moth Fly

The moth fly (Psychodidae), also known as a drain fly, is captured here in a scanning electron micrograph. Each eye is just 100 microns wide.

The Vascular System of a Chicken Embryo

By injecting fluorescent dextran into a chicken embryo, this flouresence micrograph shows the vasculature that allows it to sustain itself on the underlying yolk of the egg.

Arabidopsis thaliana seedling

A technique involving propidium iodide as a stain allows a confocal microscope to capture different tissues of this seedling leaf as they fluoresce under different wavelengths of light. Researchers are doing this to better characterize the cellular structures of different plant tissues.

Connective Tissue from a Human Knee

Ever wonder what arthroscopic knee surgery look like very up-close? This connective tissue was removed from a human knee during such a procedure and captured in this false-color scanning electron micrograph. The various colors were added by the photographer to bring out the individual fibers of collagen.

Loperamide Crystals

Guess what this is. Go ahead, guess. No? It’s an anti-diarrheal drug. Loperamide is an anti-motility, good for slowing the progression of matter through the gastrointestinal tract. This is what it looks like under a scanning electron microscope with some false color added. Because you don’t want to view it in its natural habitat.