Scientists at Harvard University, led by Daniel Nocera and biochemistry professor Pamela Silver, have developed an efficient version of the bionic leaf that can convert sunlight and water into electricity and liquid fuel.
Over the past 5 years, scientists have already managed to create artificial leaves that successfully mimic the process of photosynthesis. The latest achievement of researchers from Harvard is called "bionic sheet 2.0". It has significantly surpassed its natural prototypes in efficiency, which allows it to be used for the first time for the production of liquid fuel.
During the experiments, the bionic leaf 2.0 was lowered into water and simultaneously illuminated with sunlight. At the same time, the leaf split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. These gases can be used in fuel cells to generate electricity, and hydrogen, with the help of special bacteria, will become the basis for the production of liquid fuels.
To increase the efficiency of the reaction, a catalyst based on a cobalt-phosphorous alloy was developed, which made it possible to bring the conversion factor of sunlight into biomass to 10%, which is 10 times higher than natural indicators.
Scientists have already demonstrated the application of the invention in the production of isobutanol, isopentanol and various biplastics. In the future, Nocera and his team plan to adapt the technology for developing countries, where bionic leaves can be used as a source of renewable energy.