Scientists have developed an “artificial leaf” that can convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into a carbon-neutral fuel. The scientists behind the prototype believe that it marks a significant step towards achieving “artificial photosynthesis” — a process that would mimic the ability of plants to convert sunlight into energy, a cornerstone of life as we know it. Unlike conventional solar cells the new device produces a liquid fuel, which can be stored, rather than an electrical current. The inventors, who are based at Cambridge University, said that the technology could potentially be scaled up, creating facilities similar to existing solar farms. Alternatively, they suggest that their artificial leaves could be attached to individual homes. The device can convert about 1 per cent of the energy that reaches it, a new benchmark for the technology. That is almost as efficient as some plants but rather less impressive than solar cells, which can reach efficiencies of between 15 and 20 per cent. But the researchers said that the production of a liquid fuel could give their technology an edge.
Times 25th Aug 2020 read more »