A different kind of chemical plant

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Science  20 Jan 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6322, pp. 258-259
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6322.258-d

Leaves are beautifully compact photochemical reactors, especially in comparison with the glass flask and lamp combinations prevalent in chemistry laboratories. Cambié et al. now report an artificial leaf that takes the architecture of the natural version closely to heart. Specifically, red-emitting dye is embedded in a polydimethylsiloxane light-guiding matrix fitted with microchannels. Those channels host a flowing reaction medium wherein methylene blue absorbs the red light to sensitize formation of singlet oxygen, which proceeds to react with diphenylanthracene. Outdoor testing confirmed the device's capacity to drive productive photochemistry with diffuse sunlight.

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 10.1002/anie.201611101 (2016).

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