Artificial leaf makes fuel from sunlight


By David L. Chandler – The device, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Daniel Nocera explains, is made entirely of earth-abundant, inexpensive materials—mostly silicon, cobalt, and nickel—and works in ordinary water. Other attempts to produce devices that could use sunlight to split water have relied on corrosive solutions or on relatively rare and expensive materials such as platinum.

The artificial leaf is a thin sheet of semiconducting silicon which turns the energy of sunlight into a flow of wireless electricity within the sheet. Bound onto the silicon is a layer of a cobalt-based catalyst, which releases oxygen, a material whose potential for generating fuel from sunlight was discovered by Nocera and his coauthors in 2008. The other side of the silicon sheet is coated with a layer of a nickel-molybdenum-zinc alloy, which releases hydrogen from the water molecules.

“I think there’s going to be real opportunities for this idea,” Nocera says. more> http://tinyurl.com/5unno8m

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