The neurotransmitter dopamine isn't just beautiful under polarized light - it's also a neurotransmitter that can get you high. Photographer Spike Walker just won an award for his breathtaking micoscopic photography. Check out some more breathtaking images below.

A former schoolteacher, Walker has converted his garage into a laboratory, where he produces "photomicrographs." You may already have marveled at some of his famous images, such as polarized-light images of dopamine, acetylcholine and other neurotransmitters, or tiny creatures. Last year, he won a Wellcome Prize for his photographs, and last week, he won the Royal Photographic Society's combined Royal Colleges medal, for his "outstanding contribution to photography and its application in the service of medicine." You can read more about the techniques he uses here, and watch a video of him at work.

Below are some of our favorite images by Spike Walker. Check out more at the link. [Guardian]

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Polarized light image of dopamine. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Light micrograph of colonies of the green alga Volvox. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Polarized light micrograph of sulphur crystals. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Polarised light micrograph of diatoms. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Sensory nerve endings at the end of a hair follicle. The nerve axons are stained black. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Transverse section through a maize stem, showing vascular bundles scattered through the cortex. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Light microscope image of a water flea (Daphnia) giving birth, with one of its young already free in the water. This is an example of parthenogenesis (live birth of offspring genetically identical to their mother). Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope


Light micrograph of a cerebellum - the region of the brain involved in sensory perception. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Polarized light image of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that relays electrical impulses and is released between the synapses of parasympathetic nerves and across neuromuscular junctions. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Vitamin C crystals. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Aspirin crystals. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Bloodsucking sheep ked (Melophagus species), a parasitic wingless fly. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Polarised light micrograph of crystals of quinidine, a drug for treating heart 'arrythmia' originally derived from the cinchona tree. It stabilises the heart beat. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Crystals of adrenaline, viewed with a polarising light microscope. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Light micrograph of colonies of the green alga Volvox, which is common in fresh water. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

This psychedelic structure is what dopamine looks like under a microscope

Polarised light micrograph of crystals of coconut butter. Photograph: Spike Walker/Wellcome Images