News & AnalysisChemistry

Artificial Leaf Turns Sunlight Into a Cheap Energy Source

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Science  01 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6025, pp. 25
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6025.25

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Nearly all the energy we use on this planet starts out as sunlight that plants use to knit chemical bonds. Now, for the first time, researchers have created a potentially cheap, practical artificial leaf that does much the same thing. The new device is a silicon wafer about the shape and size of a playing card. Different catalysts coat each side of the wafer. The silicon absorbs sunlight and passes that energy to the catalysts to split water into molecules of hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2).