Nature has been working in the laboratory much longer than we have, which is why researchers are so often trying to emulate what is around us. Now those at North Carolina State University have found a way to create nanoflowers out of germanium sulfide, a semiconductor. The reason they have done this is to achieve a very high surface area in a small volume.
Surface area is important for many applications, including energy storage, and solar power as it gives more places for energy to be stored or produced. To create the flower structure, the researchers heated up germanium sulfide (GeS) in a furnace until it vaporized and could be blown to a cooler area in the furnace. By controlling the flow of the GeS vapor, the researchers were able to have the molecules recombine into thin sheets that branch out like a flower's petal, instead of just clumping together.
The use of germanium sulfide for this research is important to note as it is a rather cheap and nontoxic semiconductor. Potentially it could be used to replace solar panels that currently utilize expensive materials that can be harmful to people and the planet.