Photosynthesis by plants is a simple, green way to generate loads of energy, and giving out precious oxygen in the process. Scientists have been working to create a system that would generate energy like plant leaves do, without any ill-effects on the environment. Precious little success has been achieved so for, and the Artificial Inorganic Leaf (AIL) is a step in the same direction.
Developed by Chinese researchers from the State Key Lab of Matrix Composites at Shanghai Jiaotong University, and unveiled at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco, the AIL is an attempt to harvest energy the way plants do it.
To create the same effect as leaves to with solar power, scientists added Titanium dioxide to the leaves of the Anemone vitifolia plant, and used stereoscopic techniques to find structural features best suited for light harvesting. The leaf surface was then embedded with platinum nanoparticles to increase activity. AIL converts water into hydrogen, and the only byproduct of this fuel is water vapor.