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Virtual Backgrounds

collage banner with forest trees, ice berg, coral in the sea, and the aurora

NSF research impacts nearly every field of science and engineering, at locations across the planet. Our Multimedia Gallery has some of the most stunning images from NSF’s research legacy, and from them, we have pulled some of the most beautiful for you to use as a virtual background. 

To download a background, right click on the image and save it to your device!

NSF logo virtual background
Photo credit: National Science Foundation
NSF logo virtual background
Photo credit: National Science Foundation
NSF logo virtual background
Photo credit: National Science Foundation
An array of microneedles along the surface of a medical patch.

An array of microneedles along the surface of a medical patch.

Photo credit: Sisi Cao
liquid crystals blend of colors

Liquid crystals bend light into psychedelic patterns.

Photo credit: Oleg Lavrentovich, Liquid Crystal Institute, Kent State University
dark matter

In this simulation, a web of dark matter influences the formation of galaxies.

Photo credit: Ralf Kaehler/Ethan Nadler/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Winters get cold in Gallatin Canyon, Montana.
Winters get cold in Gallatin Canyon, Montana. Photo credit: Scott Creel and John Winnie, Montana State University, Department of Ecology
The sun’s magnetism

Magnetic fields surge from the sun in this illustration of our local star.

Photo credit: Solar Superstorms Production Group Inc.
lightning strike in a field
Lightning strikes near Iowa City, Iowa. Photo credit: Tim Schoon/University of Iowa
Intentionally painted across petri dishes, bacteria become art
Intentionally “painted” across petri dishes, bacteria become art. Photo credit: Photo by Caleb Eckert (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International); © 2018 Lopes et al
Elephant herd
A herd of elephants traverses Buffalo Springs National Reserve in Kenya. Photo credit: Shifra Goldenberg, Save the Elephants/Colorado State University
An artist’s interpretation of the potentially habitable planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri
An artist’s interpretation of the potentially habitable planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the star closest to Earth. Photo credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International)
a quadruped robot
Solo 8, a quadruped robot driven by open-source code. Photo credit: MPI for Intelligent Systems/W. Scheible
A bumble bee gathering nectar and pollen from a sunflower
A bumble bee hard at work gathering nectar and pollen from a sunflower. Photo credit: Courtesy Ben Barnhart
Brain-on-a-chip
Smaller than a piece of confetti, this tiny brain-on-a-chip holds tens of thousands of artificial brain synapses called memristors. Photo credit: Peng Lin (Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
Dwarf fireweed
Dwarf fireweed (Chamaenerion latifolium) grows on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. Photo credit: Wendi Pillars (PolarTREC 2018); Courtesy of ARCUS
Spiral galaxy NGC 4217
The spiral galaxy NGC 4217 extends magnetic field lines (green) far above and below its galaxy plane. Photo credit: Y. Stein (CDS), NRAO, SDSS, KPNO 0.9m, J. English (U. Manitoba), R.J. Dettmar and A. Miskolczi (Ruhr U.), R.J. Rand (U.N.M.) and J. Irwin (Queen’s U.)
Ripples of ice melting in the Arctic ocean
Ripples of ice melting in the Arctic ocean. Photo credit: Zhangxian Ouyang, University of Delaware
A blueberry grows in the tundra
A blueberry grows in the tundra just outside Healy, Alaska. Photo credit: Kim Young, (PolarTREC 2018); Courtesy of ARCUS
A 3D model of electron densities within a quantum dot
A 3D model of electron densities within a quantum dot. Photo credit: Wei Qiao, David Ebert, Marek Korkusinski, Gerhard Klimeck; Network for Computational Nanotechnology, Purdue University
Sunlight reflects off nearly ice-free water in the Canada Basin of the western Arctic
Sunlight reflects off nearly ice-free water in the Canada Basin of the western Arctic. Photo credit: Zhangxian Ouyang, University of Delaware
a close up of a fruit fly eye
An extreme close-up of the eye of Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly. Photo credit: Northwestern University
3D rendering shows a new way to manufacture circuits directly onto neurons
This 3D rendering shows a new way to manufacture circuits directly onto neurons. Photo credit: Ella Maru Studio and Yoon Seok Kim/Jia Liu, Deisseroth/Bao laboratories, Stanford University
A caribou skull glistens white against the tundra of northern Alaska.
A caribou skull glistens white against the tundra of northern Alaska. Photo credit: Daniel Ackerman
Inspired by processes in the human body, this synthetic filter efficiently transports water
Inspired by processes in the human body, this synthetic filter efficiently transports water. Photo credit: Erik Zumalt, Cockrell School of Engineering, UT Austin
The microscopic star of any given drop of local pondwater, Daphnia pulex
The microscopic star of any given drop of local pondwater, Daphnia pulex. Photo credit: Brian Mattes, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Antarctic field camp
A fossil-hunting field camp nestles against the distant sea on the Seymour and Vega islands in Antarctica. Photo credit: J. Meng, American Museum of Natural History
Night lava
Steaming lava glows during a nighttime eruption at Toludskoye lava field in Russia. Photo credit: Benjamin R. Edwards
A rocky outcrop rises over the Alaskan tundra.
A rocky outcrop rises over the Alaskan tundra. Photo credit: Daniel Ackerman
Colliding black holes
A pair of black holes collide in this illustration depicting one of the most powerful collisions astronomers have ever detected. Photo credit: Mark Myers, ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav)/Swinburne University
Protein ring
When E. coli divides, a complex network of proteins is key to the process. Photo credit: Jennifer E. Fairman
skull of an earless monitor lizard
The skull of an earless monitor lizard, via CT scan. Photo credit: Edward Stanley and David Blackburn, Florida Museum of Natural History
55 nanometers long, glow in simulated color to show their component materials
Thirty-two manufactured rods, each just 55 nanometers long, glow in simulated color to show their component materials. Photo credit: Schaak Laboratory, Penn State
Lawsonite
A thin, fractured slice of the mineral lawsonite, seen under a microscope through specially altered polarized light. Photo credit: Hirth Lab/Brown University
Lava flows from Russia’s Tolbachik volcanoes during an eruption
Lava flows from Russia’s Tolbachik volcanoes during an eruption in 2012. Photo credit: Benjamin R. Edwards
Antarctic night
A lone tent lies beneath the nighttime sky above the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo credit: J. Meng, American Museum of Natural History
Mouse ear
The skin of a mouse’s ear, seen at the cellular level. Photo credit: Maksim Plikus, University of California, Irvine
A quantum chip
A quantum chip, crafted from 200 layers of aluminum on a sapphire base. Photo credit: Michael T. Fang, Martinis Group, UC Santa Barbara
whale shark in the ocean
Whale sharks regularly pass nearby when ocean-going science vessels traverse the Pacific ocean. Photo credit: Kelly VonDrehle, IODP
deep sea shark in the ocean
A shark lurks near the Lost City hydrothermal field deep in the Atlantic ocean. Photo credit: Courtesy of Susan Lang, University of South Carolina/NSF/ROV Jason/2018/©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
illustration of a neutron star
In this illustration, q neutron star hides within the remains of supernova 1987A. Photo credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton
A mini-brain only three weeks old
A mini-brain only three weeks old, developed as a model for studying how medicines impact neurons. Photo credit: Hoffman-Kim lab, Brown University
dinosaurs
Allosaurs attack a sauropod along a beach in what is now Utah, 150 million years ago. Photo credit: Todd Marshall
In this illustration, an object called a trefoil knot hovers amidst superconducting qubit chips.
In this illustration, an object called a trefoil knot hovers amidst superconducting qubit chips. Photo credit: P. Roushan\Martinis lab\UC Santa Barbara
Orion cloud complex
The Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, which includes the Orion Nebula (bottom) and a dust-rich, star-forming filament. Photo credit: S. Schnee, et al.; B. Saxton, B. Kent (NRAO/AUI/NSF); NSF’s Green Bank Telescope; NASA's SkyView Facility at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Frog skull
The skull of Hemiphractus scutatus, a horned tree frog from South America. Photo credit: Edward L. Stanley, Florida Museum of Natural History
lave
Basaltic trachyandesite pahoehoe lava expands on erupting, emerging at a temperature of 1,080 degrees Celsius (1,975 degrees Fahrenheit). Photo credit: Benjamin R. Edwards
Gemini North Telescope
In this time-lapse image, a laser guide star paints the sky above the Gemini North Telescope, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab. Photo credit: Image by Joy Pollard/International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA
An artist’s rendering of brain cells
An artist’s rendering of brain cells. Photo credit: Ed Boyden and Massachusetts Institute of Technology McGovern Institute
an illustration of a microscopic chip
This chip has 50,000 microscopic light switches embedded within it. Photo credit: Younghee Lee
catsharks that naturally glow in the dark
Chain catsharks (Scyliorhinus rotifer) naturally glow in the dark. Photo credit: ©J. Sparks, D. Gruber and V. Pieribone
Spinner dolphins school just beneath the surface of the sea
Spinner dolphins school just beneath the surface of the sea. Photo credit: Andre Seale, University of Hawaii
Three-day-old embryos of red-eyed tree frogs
Three-day-old embryos of red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas) photographed in Gamboa, Panama. Photo credit: Karen Warkentin, Boston University
Scanning thermal microscope
Heat transfers between two objects at the nanoscale, the scale of atoms and molecules, in this atomic force microscope (AFM) image. Photo credit: Pramod Reddy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Baby animals
A baby Rapetosaurus dinosaur, shown to scale with a puppy (and other friends). Photo credit: Demetrios Vital
A nudibranch, commonly known as a sea slug
A nudibranch, commonly known as a sea slug, travels under the North T-Pier in Morro Bay, California. Photo credit: Ken Bondy
butterflyfish school
Butterflyfish school near Acroporid corals at Lord Howe Island, Australia. Photo credit: F. Joseph Pollock, Penn State University
The Lagoon nebula
The Lagoon nebula, as captured by the NSF-funded Gemini South Telescope. Photo credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA/Julia I. Arias and Rodolfo H. Barbá, Departamento de Física, Universidad de La Serena (Chile), and ICATE-CONICET (Argentina)
zebras and Ankole cattle in a field
Ankole cattle and zebra share grazing lands in central Kenya. Photo credit: Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University
The iconic submersible ALVIN
The iconic submersible ALVIN has made more than 5,000 dives. With its latest upgrades, ALVIN can reach as deep as 21,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Photo credit: Luis Lamar, ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
a cell from a transplanted organ is attacked by a T cell
In this illustration, a cell from a transplanted organ is attacked by a T cell, which also interacts with a nanoparticle that will send indicators into a patient’s urine to reveal damage has occurred. Photo credit: Georgia Tech/Ella Maru Studio (work for hire, all rights GT, free for distribution)
the volcano Caliente lava dome erupts
The appropriately named Caliente lava dome erupts on the western flank of Guatemala’s Santa María volcano. Photo credit: Jeffrey Johnson, Department of Geosciences, Boise State University
blue star glowing
The first stars were massive, blue engines of creation, born from the universe’s condensing matter 180 million years after the Big Bang. Photo credit: Nicolle R. Fuller/National Science Foundation
row of computer servers
NSF’s Frontera supercomputer is one of the world’s most powerful, able to compute in one second what would take an average human more than a billion years. Photo credit: TACC
light shining into opening of cave
Sun streams into the entrance of Deer Cave in Gunung Mulu National Park, Borneo. Photo credit: Syria Lejau, Gunung Mulu National Park
Red blood cells flow past a tear in a blood vessel
Red blood cells flow past a tear in a blood vessel. Photo credit: Nicolle R. Fuller, National Science Foundation
Fish swim along a coral reef
Fish swim along a coral reef in the Line Islands in the central Pacific Ocean. Photo credit: Jennifer Smith, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Glaciers converge
Glaciers converge on northeast Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. The ice rivers are revealing insights into what caused Earth’s Little Ice Age more than seven centuries ago. Photo credit: Gifford H. Miller, INSTAAR, University of Colorado Boulder
VLA Telescopes
NSF’s Very Large Array radio telescope is located near Socorro, New Mexico. Deployed in their widest configuration, the array would just barely fit within Washington D.C.’s Capital Beltway. Photo credit: Andrew Clegg, National Science Foundation
Stellar Turbulence
This simulation depicts the turbulence of gasses within a star. Astronomers and computer scientists worked together to run the 9.5 teraflop calculation. Photo credit: Paul Woodward, Laboratory for Computational Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota
Antarctic Skyline
This scene captures the stark beauty of Arthur Harbor near NSF’s Palmer Station in Antarctica. Photo credit: Perri Barbour
forest trees
A stand of aspen trees scatters sunlight on Boulder Mountain in Utah. Aspens are one of many trees under study as NSF researchers evaluate the impacts of global warming. Photo credit: Martin Venturas, University of Utah
monarch butterflies
Monarch butterflies bask in the Florida sun. NSF scientists have been tracking the monarchs’ decline in the hopes of finding clues to saving them. Photo credit: Florida Museum photo by Court Whelan
Palmer Stations in Antarctica
From NSF’s Palmer Station in Antarctica, everywhere is a long way off. Nestled in a protected harbor off the Antarctica Peninsula, it hosts constant scientific research, and a webcam. Photo credit: Ken Keenan
rock arch
Corona Arch in Utah, like many rock arches, “sings” imperceptibly as vibrations pass through it. The vibrations were revealed by NSF-funded scientists recording the tiny motions using seismometers. Photo credit: Alison Starr, University of Utah
a glass brain visual
Paired with a special cap, the Glassbrain app shows patterns in brain activity. In 2012, former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart used Glassbrain to show his brain activity live in performance. Photo credit: Adam Gazzaley, Roger Anguera Singla, Rajat Jain, Tim Mullen, Christian Kothe, John Fesenko, Oleg Konings, and Matt Omernick
cells
When you look closely, our cells are hubs of complex activity, executed by natural nanomachines that drive the processes of life. Photo credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation
iceberg in the arctic
Iceberg near Palmer Station in Antarctica Photo credit: Robin Solfisburg
neutrino illustration
A trace of blue light results from the interaction of a neutrino and an ice molecule Photo credit: Nicolle R. Fuller, National Science Foundation
a group of penguins
Adélie penguins at Hut Point Peninsula in early January. Adélies are the most widespread of all penguins and the most common one in the Ross Sea area. Photo credit: Mike Lucibella, National Science Foundation
black hole
Astronomers capture first image of a black hole Photo credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.
aurora
A trip to Antarctica may not be in the cards, but with this background, join your next video call “remote” from NSF’s South Pole Station. Photo credit: Patrick Cullis; Source: U.S. Antarctic Program photo Library
DKIST
For your next videoconference, call in from the surface of the sun. Photo credit: NSF/NSO/AURA
hot lava glowing red
Steaming lava glows during a nighttime eruption at Toludskoye lava field in Russia. Photo credit: Benjamin R. Edwards
A fossil-hunting field camp nestles against the distant sea on the Seymour and Vega islands in Antarctica.
A fossil-hunting field camp nestles against the distant sea on the Seymour and Vega islands in Antarctica. Photo credit: J. Meng, American Museum of Natural History
A rocky outcrop rises over the Alaskan tundra.
A rocky outcrop rises over the Alaskan tundra. Photo credit: Daniel Ackerman