Wood fibers are coated with carbon nanotubes and then packed into small disks of metal. The sodium ions moving around in the wood fibers create an electric current. Heather Rousseau/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Heather Rousseau/NPR

Before And After: These near-infrared images of Uranus show the planet as seen without adaptive optics (left) and with the technology turned on (right). Courtesy of Heidi B. Hammel and Imke de Pater hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Heidi B. Hammel and Imke de Pater

AnthroTronix Founder and CEO Corinna Lathan, at the company's offices in Silver Spring, Md. Courtesy of AnthroTronix, Inc. hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of AnthroTronix, Inc.

This image represents a chunk, or "cube," of brain. Each different color represents a different neuron, and the goal of the EyeWire game is to figure out how these tangled neurons connect to each other. Players look at a slice from this cube and try to identify the boundaries of each cell. It isn't easy, and it takes practice. You can try it for yourself at eyewire.org. EyeWire hide caption

itoggle caption EyeWire

Car commercial? Nope. Jessica Richman, Zachary Apte (center) and William Ludington are looking to the crowd for money to fund uBiome, which will sequence the genetic code of microbes that live on and inside humans. Courtesy of uBiome hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of uBiome

A drawing from Michael Davidson's 2012 patent for "Toothbrush And Method Of Using The Same." Patent 8,108,962/U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hide caption

itoggle caption Patent 8,108,962/U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity dug up five scoops of sand from a patch nicknamed "Rocknest." A suite of instruments called SAM analyzed Martian soil samples, but the findings have not yet been released. NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

itoggle caption NASA/JPL-Caltech

Catherine Wong used electrical components to build an electrocardiogram that sends data by cellphone. Courtesy of Catherine Wong hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Catherine Wong

Roger Angel, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, stands in front of his new project: a solar tracker. Angel wants to use the device to harness Arizona's abundant sunlight and turn it into usable energy. Jason Millstein for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jason Millstein for NPR