Artificial leaves convert sunlight into fuel at a rate that could efficiently power remote locations
Source: Scientific American
After slipping a thumb-size silicon microprocessor into a small beaker filled with water, Daniel Nocera turns on a light. Instantly, bubbles stream from the chip.
Turning off the light stops the bubbles. It’s a simple demonstration, but one that could promise power for the millions who have least access to it—those in under-developed countries and remote locations.
The chip is an artificial leaf. Nocera—Harvard University’s Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy—has developed it to mimic photosynthesis, nature’s chemical process that turns sunlight into stored energy.
But more than just copying nature, Nocera’s technology outdoes it. While the most efficient plants can convert about 1 per cent of sunlight into energy, manmade versions could produce at least 10 times better results—though it’s early days yet.
Considerable work remains to be done before the technology could produce power in a commercially useful way.