This isn't a romantic pink rose, nor any other kind of flower you can name. In fact, it's a wonderfully delicate crystalline bloom of germanium sulphide with petals that are just 20 nanometers thick.

It was created by a team of researchers who are trying to make incredibly high surface area crystals for use in a new breed of high energy lithium-ion batteries and solar cells. Producing the thing involved vaporising germanium sulphide powder in a furnace, and then cooling the vapor carefully so that it settled in thin, petal-like layers. That probably rules it out as a Valentine's gift for most of us. [ACS Nano via New Scientist]


Image by Chun Li, Liang Huang, Gayatri Pongur Snigdha and Linyou Cao, North Carolina State University