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NC State nanoflowers can boost battery and solar cell capacity, make great prom accessories

We see a lot of sleek-looking technology pass through our doors, but it's rare that the inventions could be called beautiful by those who aren't immersed in the gadget world. We'd venture that North Carolina State University might have crossed the divide by creating an energy storage technology that's both practical and genuinely pretty. Its technology vaporizes germanium sulfide and cools it into 20-30 nanometer layers that, as they're combined, turn into nanoflowers: elegant structures that might look like the carnation on a prom dress or tuxedo, but are really energy storage cells with much more capacity than traditional cells occupying the same area. The floral patterns could lead to longer-lived supercapacitors and lithium-ion batteries, and the germanium sulfide is both cheap and clean enough that it could lead to very efficient solar cells that are more environmentally responsible. As always, there's no definite timetable for when (and if) NC State's technology might be commercialized -- so call someone's bluff if they promise you a nanoflower bouquet.