The 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society saw the debut of first ever Artificial Leaf with practical usage. The advanced solar cell having the size of a poker card actually performed the photosynthesis process of a natural leaf to produce energy from sunlight and water.
According to Dr. Daniel Nocera, the leader of the research team, the artificial leaf will come as a handy source to produce electricity cost-effectively for the homes in developing and poor countries. The research aims to make every home self-reliant in generating the electric power required for it. The researchers utilized maple, oak and other green plants as a model in their research to produce new type of solar cells. The new solar cell is made from electronics, silicon and other catalysts and contents that assist to speed up the chemical responses that otherwise will not happen or will take place slowly.
The new device when located in a gallon of water under bright sunshine will generate enough power to meet a day’s electricity requirement of a moderate house in a developing country. The power is generated by splitting the oxygen and hydrogen components in the water and storing it in a fuel cell to produce power. The fuel cell can be located next to the house or on top of it. The new device is produced utilizing widely available cheap materials and generates stable power under normal working conditions. Under lab conditions, the prototype device worked for 45 hours continuously and generated power stably.
Nocera has achieved this discovery by utilizing a number of cost- effective and powerful catalysts produced utilizing cobalt and nickel to break up water into oxygen and hydrogen. The new artificial leaf is found to be at least 10 times more efficient in performing the photosynthetic process than the actual natural leaf. Nocera hopes to increase the efficiency of the artificial leaf to a larger extent in the future. The project of Nocera has received funding from the Chesonis Family Foundation and National Science Foundation.