Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chinese Scientists Reveal New Design for Artificial Inorganic Leaf to Produce Fuel by Photosynthesis

The figure illustrates part of the recipe for an artificial leaf, which draws on Mother Nature’s secrets, and could use sunlight and water to produce fuel.
Credit: Tongxiang Fan, Ph.D. 

Chinese scientists have developed a design strategy to produce the long-sought artificial leaf, which could harness Mother Nature’s ability to produce energy from sunlight and water in the process called photosynthesis. The new recipe, based on the chemistry and biology of natural leaves, could lead to working prototypes of an artificial leaf that capture solar energy and use it efficiently to change water into hydrogen fuel, they stated.

“This concept may provide a new vista for the design of artificial photosynthetic systems based on biological paradigms and build a working prototype to exploit sustainable energy resources,” Tongxiang Fan, Ph.D. and colleagues Di Zhang, Ph.D. and Han Zhou, Ph.D., reported, They are with the State Key Lab of Matrix Composites at Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China.

In his American Chemical Society presentation, Fan reported on various aspects of Artificial Inorganic Leaf production, their spectroscopic work to better understand the macro- and microstructure of the photocatalysts, and their comparison to previously reported systems.

“Our results may represent an important first step towards the design of novel artificial solar energy transduction systems based on natural paradigms, particularly based on exploring and mimicking the structural design. Nature still has much to teach us, and human ingenuity can modify the principles of natural systems for enhanced utility.”

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