Leaves are the original solar collector. The trick has always been to duplicate their efficiency. Now it looks like that may be possible. An MIT group (headed by Professor Daniel Nocera) announced at the 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, a successful solar cell that artificially recreates the process of photosynthesis.
The leaf offers the following potential benefits:
1. Cheap: The poker card-shaped leaf is made up of silicon, electronics, catalysts, and chemicals. It utilizes inexpensive materials such as nickel and cobalt.
2. Simple: Place the leaf in single gallon of water in bright light. Then the leaf can split the water into hydrogen and oxygen, creating a source of energy.
2. Output is consistent: It can produce enough electricity to supply a house in developing country for a day.
Nocera claims that this artificial leaf is 10 times more efficient than photosynthesis in a real leaf. Granted, no energy conversion is truly 100% efficient, but if this artificial leaf delivers, this technology has the potential to revolutionize what we think of energy.
Imagine the endless possibilities!
The following video is Dr. Daniel Nocera explaining his method in 2008: