The solar-powered aircraft ‘Solar Impulse’ flew for 26 hours over Switzerland in April 2010. The unprecedented achievement of the privately financed Swiss plane highlights a serious gap in renewable energy. Despite a wingspan almost as wide as that of a Boeing 747, it carried just two passengers and puttered along at just 45 miles per hour. Laurent Gillieron/AP
John Maltabes, a Hewlett-Packard research engineer, is reflected in a sample sheet of thin, flexible electronic displays. Mr. Maltabes imagines a different future, one in which electronics are mass-produced like fabrics or newspapers. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
John Maltabes, a research engineer at Hewlett-Packard, inspects a sample of a thin web for flaws in etched resistors. Mr. Maltabes is working on these so-called “roll-to-roll” methods for making flexible, paper-thin computer displays. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
A digitally enhanced satellite image highlights oil and dispersants in the clean-up effort of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year. DigitalGlobe/Reuters
Nathan Lewis, professor of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, has built photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into chemical energy up to 40 times more efficiently than crops. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
Postdoctoral scholar Shane Ardo uses light to produce hydrogen gas (the bubbles) in water at the California Institute of Technology.
There, at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, scientists are trying to harness sunlight to generate chemical fuel, specifically by splitting water to generate hydrogen. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology student tweezes a silicon wafer that, under high heat, will grow carbon nanotubes, some of the smallest conductors yet invented. Ann Hermes/Staff
Doctoral students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology pour liquid nitrogen to cool down a near-infrared detector that will be used to image carbon nanotubes. Ann Hermes/Staff
"Jeopardy!" contestant Ken Jennings, who won a record 74 consecutive games, gestures to his opponent, "Watson," an IBM computer. On a nationally televised game of the quiz show in February, Watson beat both Mr. Jennings and Brad Rutter – two of the game’s all-time human champions. Seth Wenig/AP
President Obama kicked off his “Middle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tour” Thursday with a visit to Manor New Tech High School in Manor, Texas, where he met some of the students that will help make up the 1 million new graduates he hopes to see in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) over the next decade.