The artificial leaf has been a target of solar research for years — an object that creates fuel sources out of sunlight, mimicking photosynthesis. But this solar energy breakthrough has always been thwarted by the need for rare components... until now.
New research out of MIT has created an artificial leaf that's not only cheap to build, but resilient too. The leaf is like a thinner version of a playing card in size. When placed in water in sunlight, it uses the new, inexpensive catalysts to convert the liquid into hydrogen and oxygen — and each of the gasses is emitted from a different side of the leaf — which can then be used as a power source. Using the leaf, a gallon of water can be used to generate enough power to fuel a house for a day. Currently the device functions at 10 times the efficiency of photosynthesis, but the researchers are sure they can improve it further.