Wednesday, March 30, 2011
MIT Lab Creates 'Artificial Leaf'
PopSci reports: [edited]
Today at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society researchers from MIT’s Nocera Lab, led by Dr. Daniel Nocera, claimed that they’ve created an artificial leaf made from stable and inexpensive materials.
The artificial leaf looks nothing like the natural leaf that it mimics, but its inputs and outputs are the same. Made of silicon, electronics, and various catalysts that spur chemical reactions within the device, the artificial leaf uses sunlight to break water into hydrogen and oxygen which can then be used to create electricity in a separate fuel cell.
Placed in a gallon of water and left in the sun, these artificial leaves could provide a home in the developing world with basic electricity for a day, Nocera said.
Scaled and mass produced, something like the Nocera Lab’s leaf could be the key component to shifting toward a hydrogen-based economy. In the nearer term, such technology could at the very least power parts of the globe that are currently off the grid with clean, plentiful, and easy-to-come-by energy.