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The MIT-Developed Artificial Leaf is a Practical Energy Source

Until now, the role of fake plants has been mainly aesthetic, but a new technology developed by scientists at MIT may play a key role in the energy generation process of the future: a photosynthetic artificial leaf.

While the artificial leaf is not new, having been first developed more than a decade ago, this latest innovation is much more practical than its predecessor, and is constructed from readily available materials instead of rare metals. The role of the artificial leaf is to split water molecules into their component parts -- hydrogen and oxygen -- using photosynthesis. The two gases are then used to power an electrical fuel cell.

"The ar­ti­fi­cial leaf shows par­tic­u­lar prom­ise as an in­ex­pen­sive source of elec­tri­city for homes of the poor in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries," says Daniel Nocera, an MIT chemist who led the development of the playing-card-sized leaf. "Our goal is to make each home its own pow­er sta­t­ion."

Photo Credits: MIT | Kris Krug/Poptech