Tuesday, 29 Mar, 2011 Environment

Latest Invention: Artificial Leaf Able to Power Homes for the Poor


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Researchers from MIT for the first time managed to develop an "artificial leaf", which in fact represents a solar cell that is about the size of a playing card.

The main aspect of this invention is that it can simulate photosynthesis. "A practical artificial leaf has been one of the Holy Grails of science for decades. We believe we have done it," says Daniel Nocera, the lead researcher.

According to Nocera the "artificial leaf", which is the world's first, can become a great alternative to power sources, as it is rather inexpensive and can be used to power homes of people living in developing countries. He also mentioned that goal of the team is to make a power station for each home.

When the leaf is placed in a gallon of water in bright light, it can generate enough power to supply a house with electricity for a whole day.

The latest invention from Nocera and his team is built of inexpensive materials that can be obtained nearly everywhere. During the trials, researchers noticed that their device worked non-stop for 45 hours and did not register any issues in performance.

The artificial leaf is based on a number of newly-discovered catalysts, composed of nickel and cobalt. Under normal conditions these catalysts can efficiently part water into hydrogen and oxygen.

So far the device's level of efficiency at carrying out photosynthesis is about 10 times that of a natural leaf, mentions Nocera. However, the researcher is confident that it is possible to boost efficiency even further, reports Wired.co.uk.

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