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
A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.