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The votes have been counted. America has spoken.

The five finalists were so outstanding that no one cared Simon Cowell wasn’t part of the action. 

No, I’m not talking about Scotty McCreery, though we congratulate him as well. I’m talking about yesterday’s “People’s Choice Award” winner of the Department of Energy’s Life at the Frontiers of Energy Research Video Contest. 

The winning entry, “Heart of the Solution,” focused on the compelling work being done by scientists at the Center for Solar and Thermal Energy Conversion (CSTEC) at the University of Michigan. They are fabricating new material systems that not only change the cost of solar panels, but also the cost of the infrastructure, to make harvesting the sun’s energy competitive with fossil fuels. 

The sleekly produced three-minute film beat out its cuter competition, “Carbon in Underland,” an engaging animated short on carbon sequestration in which a CO2 molecule (perhaps named Alice) tumbles down a hole into unfamiliar territory.

Unlike Alice's “Wonderland,” the concept of the CO2's “Underland” is very real to the scientists at the Center for Nanoscale Control of Geologic CO2 (NCGC), who are using new investigative tools, combined with experiments and computer simulations, to build a fundamental understanding of the flow, transport and mineralization of CO2 for geologic sequestration.

The lost CO2 isn't quite sure he will be compatible with the oil, coal and other residents of "Underland." But his new hosts show the molecule around and explain that he will fit in quite nicely -- eventually becoming part of the rock formations below the Earth's crust.

The NCGC is just one of 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) applying America’s extraordinary scientific and technical resources to the nation's critical energy needs. The early successes of these centers are currently being highlighted at the inaugural Energy Frontier Research Centers Summit and Forum, May 25-27 in Washington, D.C. The EFRC Summit & Forum is bringing together more than a 1,000 scientists and energy policy leaders to explore the challenges and opportunities in applying the nation’s scientific resources to transform the future of energy and the environment. 

Leading up to the summit, EFRCs were invited to create short, engaging films that educate, inspire, and entertain for a non-expert audience. The five winners were screened at the summit yesterday, along with the announcement of the People's Choice Award.

For more information about Science for Our Nation’s Energy Future: EFRC Summit & Forum, please visit:

Liisa O’Neill is a New Media Specialist in the Office of Public Affairs.