An artificial leaf was created to generate energy. A team of chemists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology headed by Dr. Daniel Nocera created a tiny solar cell that can mimic photosynthesis, the process by which plants breathe and produce power. The “leaf” which is no bigger and thinner than the size of a credit card, is a sheet of semiconducting silicon— the material most solar cells are made of and, uses electronics and catalysts to accelerate chemical reactions, takes water and separates it into oxygen and hydrogen which is a promising source of inexpensive electricity especially in the developing countries. This could be a good alternative to expensive electricity. The goal is to make each home its own power station.
This is not really a new concept. Studies and experiments have been conducted in previous years. Scientists have long been trying to imitate the photosynthetic activity of leaves- turning sunlight and water into energy that can be stored. Like living leaves, the artificial leaf can turn the energy of sunlight directly into a chemical fuel that can be stored and used later as an energy source. There was a previous work done 10 years ago by John Turner of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado which turned out to be impractical for wider use, as it was composed of rare, expensive metals and was highly unstable, with a short lifespan of barely one day. This new project on the artificial leaf is more likely to work well because it’s made out of ordinary, cheaper materials that are widely available, including catalysts made of nickel and cobalt, it’s simple to use and can last longer. This will be a great energy source especially for the third world countries, where it could provide a house with power all day long with just a gallon of water.
This is a potential solution to expensive electricity so who knows, in days to come, the artificial leaf might be available for purchase in convenience stores. This incredible technology means that with just water, we would have enough electricity to power every home. Nature is powered by photosynthesis. Imagine a future world powered by photosynthesis as well in the form of this artificial leaf. The sun plus sufficient water equals energy to power an entire home, perhaps the entire planet.