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A micrograph of zinc oxide crystals grown on a porous substrate is the origin of this year's holiday image. While researching zinc-based batteries, UC Irvine chemical engineering and materials science graduate student Kyle McDevitt captured this original image in Professor Ali Mohraz's laboratory with a Magellan scanning electron microscope. "For some strange reason," Mohraz says, "the crystals grow in this shape that looks like pine trees." Mohraz colorized the image leading to a credible depiction of a snow-covered pine forest. In the micrograph, the tree-like crystals are approximately 4 micrometers high, about 1/5th the width of a human hair.

May the magic and wonder of the holiday season stay with you throughout the coming year.