Photosynthesis has been a goal of energy storage researchers for decades. Plants are pretty good at turning solar energy into something useful, like electricity that powers the Internet so you can go download smut, but capturing that in the lab, let alone in a prototype, using artificial means has been rough.
We only built the first artificial leaf in the last decade; it was made of rare metals and broke in a day. Ten years later, we’ve got the best fake leaf ever, ten times more efficient than actual leaves. Suck it, trees!
The leaf uses cobalt and nickel to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Obviously, it’s entirely solar-powered, and worked for 45 hours straight in tests. Next step? Leaf-powered cars: Tata Auto Group wants to use the leaf to develop new automotive power plants.
[ via the artificial hummingbirds at 80beats ]