On the right track for an “artificial leaf”

It may seem an impractical method, but a roadmap that lays out the potential limits of an “artificial leaf” could help further development. A team of MIT researchers has furthered a 2011 concept for the device that could synthesise sunlight into a fuel that can then be used on demand, rather than being immediately converted into electricity.

The report is an in-depth analysis of all the challenges the project will face, and opens the way for a proper prototype. The previous 2011 device had only a 4.7% level of conversion efficiency, whereas new findings predict rates of 16% or more.

The end goal will eventually be to make a cell that utilises abundant and cheap materials in order to improve energy availability in developing nations. Such issues as component materials and the challenge of solution resistance are covered, making it easier for another team to step in and create a working model.

Read more at Massachusetts Institute of Technology