28 Mar 2011:
Solar ‘Artificial Leaf’
Is Unveiled by MIT Researchers
MIT chemist Daniel Nocera has unveiled details about his long-awaited “artificial leaf” invention
, a small solar cell that mimics photosynthesis and has the potential to produce low-cost electricity for individual homes — an advance that could be particularly valuable in the developing world, where many people lack electricity. About the size of a playing card, the solar cell — which uses inexpensive and widely available materials like silicon — is able to split water into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen. Placed in a gallon of water in bright sunlight, the device could produce enough electricity to supply a house in a developing country with electricity for a day. The hydrogen and oxygen gases produced by the artificial leaf could be stored in a small fuel cell, which would use the gases to generate electricity. Nocera, who has been working on the technology for several years, released details about it during the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in California. “Our goal is to make each home its own power station,” said Nocera. While U.S. researchers had previously developed a so-called “artificial leaf,” Nocera’s recent discovery of inexpensive catalysts, including nickel and cobalt, has made the technology more efficient and cost-effective.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.