A practical artificial leaf that can turn sunlight and water into energy as efficiently as the real thing has long been a Holy Grail of chemistry, and researchers at MIT may have finally done it. 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--more importantly--inexpensive materials.
Real leaves are natural energy factories that can split water molecules and create hydrogen ions. Scientists have long tried to copy the molecules involved in creating hydrogen, but a Chinese team took a different tack by creating an artificial structure based on natural leaves as templates. Early tests have shown that the artificial leaves could soak up twice as much light and produce three times as much energy as the real thing, New Scientist reports.