Artificial leaf mimics photosynthesis

Scientists have created an artificial leaf made from stable and inexpensive materials that mimics nature’s photosynthesis process.

The device is an advanced solar cell, no bigger than a typical playing card, which is left floating in a pool of water. Then, much like a natural leaf, it uses sunlight to split the water into its two core components, oxygen and hydrogen, which are stored in a fuel cell to be used when producing electricity.

The leaf is stable — operating continuously for at least 45 hours without a drop in activity in preliminary tests — and made of widely available, inexpensive materials — like  silicon, electronics and chemical catalysts. It’s also powerful, as much as 10 times more efficient at carrying out photosynthesis than a natural leaf.

With a single gallon (3.8L) of water the chip could produce enough electricity to power a house in a developing country for an entire day. Provide every house on the planet with an artificial leaf and we could satisfy our 14-terrawatt need with just one gallon of water a day. Read more here or here.

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