First Place - Andrew Koltonow

Image: 

Graduate Student, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

More efficient solar cells may be the solution to cleaner, greener energy. These clusters of zinc oxide nanoparticles are used to help engineers design new materials for organic solar cells. They're used in a coating that allows electric current to flow only in the correct direction, blocking unintended leakage. This allows researchers to study the energy-harvesting material more reliably. Clusters in the lower left formed more slowly than the rest, producing the large, spindly crystals. Variations in color relate to the thickness of the clusters.