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An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from IEEE Spectrum's Nanoclast blog:
"One of the fundamental problems with fuel cells has been the cost of producing hydrogen. While hydrogen is, of course, the most abundant element, it attaches itself to other elements like nitrogen or fluorine, and perhaps most ubiquitously to oxygen to create the water molecule. ... Now researchers at University of California, San Diego have developed a quite different approach to mimicking photosynthesis for splitting water molecules by using a 3D branched nanowire array that looks like a forest of trees. ... The nanowire forest [uses] the process of photoelectrochemical water-splitting to produce hydrogen gas. The method used by the researchers, which was published in the journal Nanoscale (abstract), found that the forest structure of the nanowires, which has a massive amount of surface area, not only captured more light than flat planar designs, but also produced more hydrogen gas."

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Princeton’s annual “Art of Science” contest is open to students, faculty, staff and alumni, and aims to prove that science is beautiful–these images were created during the course of research. The 56 winners of the 2011 Art of Science contest represent this year’s broadly interpreted theme of “intelligent design”, and were chosen by a panel based on their purely visual qualities as well as scientific interest. The images will also be included in an exhibition at the university, up through November 2012. As the website says: “The Art of Science exhibition explores the interplay between science and art. These practices both involve the pursuit of those moments of discovery when what you perceive suddenly becomes more than the sum of its parts. Each piece in this exhibition is, in its own way, a record of such a moment.” All images courtesy Princeton University’s Art of Science Competition.

This flower-like shape is actually a ferrofluid, a liquid mixed with small metallic particles. Ferrofluids, which are used in electronics, spacecraft and medicine, can have the properties of either a liquid or a solid, depending on whether a magnetic field is present. Unlike a flower floating on a pond, here the “flower” (the magnetized part on top) and the “water” underneath are the same material. Photo credit: Elle Starkman

This is not a dandelion. This image shows two superimposed scanning electron micrographs of zinc oxide nanostructures, whose applications include the harvesting of solar energy. This image was an accident—the structures should be vertically oriented, but they didn’t come out right due to surface contamination. The researchers were able, ultimately, to manufacture the right configuration, but the results turned out to be less visually interesting. Photo credits: Luisa Whittaker and Yueh-Lin Loo

A Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly. The grainier images, at bottom left and top, show a simulated compound-eye view of how one butterfly would see another from different distances. At 18 centimeters—the view at top right and the typical courtship distance for the species—if either the eye or the butterfly moves slightly, large portions of the image flash back and forth between all orange and all black. Photo credit: Henry S. Horn

A look inside a generator. The coils on the campus generator above were visible for a few days during its first 10-year preventive maintenance shutdown. The generator can produce enough electricity to power about 60% of the peak load of buildings connected to the campus grid. Photo credit: William Evans

The crystal structures in this piezo electric material were formed while placed under high temperature and pressure. This particular material is being studied because of its unique ability to convert mechanical energy to electrical energy offering a wide range of energy harvesting application. Photo credits: Nan Yao, Gerald Poirier, Shiyou Xu

To understand the fundamental building blocks of nature, scientists create large particle accelerators to accelerate and collide beams of particles. To understand the accelerators themselves, scientists create smaller machines to simulate the behavior of these beams of particles.
A small tabletop version was created using a ring stand from a chemistry laboratory, two metal spheres, and a power supply that creates an electrical potential of several thousand volts. When this voltage oscillates at 60 Hertz and drop small dust particles into the gap between the ring and the spheres, it is possible to clearly see the charged particles. In this demonstration the dust grains are charged and are alternately pushed and pulled by the oscillating voltage. Since they are heavy, and the voltage oscillates quickly, the particles never have time to get pushed or pulled all the way out of the system — they stay trapped. Photo credits: Elle Starkman, Joe Caroll, Gary Stark, Andy Carpe Erik Gilson

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HEAVY LIFTING: Workers installed a Wells Fargo sign at the bank’s downtown office in Richmond, Va., Tuesday. (Joe Mahoney/Times Dispatch/Associated Press)

ELECTRICAL HEALING: Residents lay on railway tracks in West Java Province, Indonesia, Wednesday. They believe the electrical energy from the tracks will cure them of various illnesses. (Enny Nuraheni/Reuters)

PAPER PLANES: Hundreds of protesters threw paper planes outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong Wednesday. They demonstrated against the government. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

FIRM HANDSHAKE: President Barack Obama shook the prosthetic hand of Army Sgt. First Class Leroy Petry of New Mexico, who received the Medal of Honor Tuesday at the White House for tossing aside a grenade, sparing his comrades in Afghanistan in 2008. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

PASSENGER SAVED: Rescuers saved a passenger from a vehicle that fell into the Daning River in Wuxi County, Chongqing Municipality, China, Wednesday. At least four people were killed. (Photomall/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

ON THE BELT: A police officer escorted a passenger off a conveyor belt at Paris’ Orly airport Wednesday. Scuffles broke out between passengers and Air Algerie personnel after the Algerian airline canceled flights as a strike by pilots and flight attendants entered a third day. (Maxppp/Zuma Press)

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ReCraft Your Ride: Carbon Fiber Bike HMK 561

Unlike of many other concepts electric bicycle concept HMK 561 from Ralf Kittmann took home an iF Design Award for some seriously forward thinking. Cyclists HMK 561 is made of conductive carbon fiber, which is not only an excellent conductor of electricity, but also acts as a capacitor that can store energy. This energy is obtained by converting the mechanical energy into electrical energy in each mobile connection of mechanism. The resulting energy fed to the engine and lights. And there is already a working prototype!

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