Artificial Leaf Makes its Debut
Leaves are the ultimate in solar energy because they can convert water and sunlight into storable fuel. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology now say they’ve found a way to mimic this feat.
According to the Discovery News:
“The new technology copies the process of photosynthesis in which the sun’s energy liberates electrons in a leaf, which then split water to form hydrogen and oxygen, providing stored energy for the plant.
The sunlight is captured with the same silicon material that makes up a typical solar panel, but instead of connecting it to wires that can charge a battery, the coated silicon with catalysts is submerged in water.”
This technology has the potential to power a house and bring electricity to the developing world with little more than a chip sunk into a bowl of water. It could even store electricity for when the sun is not shining.
Although it is not the first time that scientists have invented such a product, it is the first time that the materials used were affordable enough to make the device practical.
Engineers still have a little work to do on this product before it can be marketed to the general public. They need to take it from the lab to a rooftop and find an efficient way to collect and store hydrogen and oxygen for later use. Engineers would also like for the device to run in whatever water is available.
Would you power your home with one of these artificial leaves?
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