It can be easy to forget just how amazing plants are since they are everywhere around us. By tapping into the energy of Sunlight, plants are able to produce sugars in one area that then feed the entire plant. Researchers have been trying to recreate plants' photosynthesis and now, as reported by the American Chemical Society, a new design could revolutionize the use of artificial leafs.
The typical artificial leaf is a solar cell coated in catalysts that split use the energy from the cell to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. These gases can then be stored and recombined later to release energy, like a battery. These designs however tend to be complicated, use expensive materials, and require pure water. The new leaf design however uses a new, self-healing catalyst which can be used in simple drinking water. Other leafs would have films of bacteria form on them, impairing performance, but this catalyst will break apart, destroying the surface needed for a film to form, and then repair itself to continue operating.
While the self-healing ability may seem exotic, this new design is actually simpler and cheaper than previous artificial leaf designs, but it is still quite effective. From a single quart of drinking water, roughly 100 watts of power could be provided to a home over a full day.
Source: American Chemical Society