First Practical Artificial Leaf

First Practical Artificial Leaf

Author: ChemistryViews

The first practical artificial leaf shows particular promise as an inexpensive source of electricity for homes in developing countries. Developed by Daniel Nocera and co-workers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, the solar cell was created to mimic photosynthesis and is no bigger than a playing card.

The cell uses nickel and cobalt catalysts to split water into H2 and O2 which are stored in a fuel cell. The cell is cheaper and significantly more stable than previous cells for photosynthesis, being able to run continuously for over 45 hours without a drop in activity. It is ten times more efficient than a natural leaf and, if placed in a gallon of water in bright sunlight, the device can produce enough electricity to supply a house in a developing country for a day.


  • Presented at 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Anaheim, California, USA, 2011.
  • Video: Solar Energy for the Poor?
    Daniel Nocera discusses how his artificial leaf works

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