Silicon oxide nanowires have an amusing habit of arranging themselves into impressive patterns. When S.K. Hark, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, looked at some of them under a scanning electron microscope, he saw flowers. Unlike plants, their fertilizers were gallium and gold catalysts — which allowed them to grow to several microns in length while maintaining a roughly 10-nanometer diameter. The physics professor colorized his award-winning crop to enhance their resemblance to real sunflowers.
After depositing some potassium niobium oxide onto a silicon surface, graduate student Michael Sygnatowicz used an optical microscope to take this photograph, resembling a distant galaxy.
Link and photos from Wired.