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Surprising Science

Artificial Leaves Could Store Energy

An artificial silicon-based “leaf” that collects energy in much the same way as a natural one could provide a day’s worth of power for homes without access to an electricity grid.

Scientists at M.I.T. look to imitate photosynthesis in their attempts to build an artificial leaf that captures and stores the Sun’s energy in the form of electricity. “The leaf, a silicon-based square the size of a playing card, closely mimics the way plants use the process of photosynthesis to create energy. The device is dropped into a bucket of water, or even a muddy puddle, and placed in direct sunlight. ‘Leaves are buzzing with electricity,’ said Daniel Nocera, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who heads the research, ‘they just don’t have any wires in them.’ Neither does the artificial leaf.”


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