This image received an Honorable Mention recognition from National Geographic as one of the best science visualizations of 2009. Here is their description:

“Honorable Mention, Illustration: “Back to the Future”
“Created at the Second University of Naples in Italy, “Back to the Future” illustrates the principles of biomimeticism—the idea that nature’s creations can guide the design of future technology.

“Computer-generated drawings of future solar panels, 10 feet (3 meters) tall and 165 feet (50 meters) across, stand behind the organisms that inspired them—the microscopic marine algae known as Licmophora flabellata.

“Shown attached to sand grains in a scanning electron microscope image, these biological solar collectors have a flat, wedgelike form and a glasslike wall—features that allow them to absorb as much sunlight as possible for photosynthesis.” 

IMAGE CREDIT: Mario De Stefano, Antonia Auletta, and Carla Langella, Second University of Naples, via National Geographic.