CSIR’s artificial leaf creates fuel from sunlight, water

Scientists have developed an artificial leaf that absorbs sunlight to generate hydrogen fuel from water, an advance that may provide clean energy for powering eco-friendly cars in the future. The ultra-thin wireless device mimics plant leaves to produce energy using water and sunlight. The device consists of semiconductors stacked in a manner to simulate the natural leaf system. When visible light strikes the semiconductors, electrons move in one direction, producing electric current. The current almost instantaneously splits water into hydrogen – which researchers believe is one of the cleanest forms of fuel as its main byproduct is water. A palm-sized device can produce six litres of hydrogen fuel an hour. Auto makers are also trying to make cars run by hydrogen-powered fuel cells. To improve the light-absorbing efficiency of the artificial leaf, researchers used gold nanoparticles, titanium dioxide and quantum dots. Hydrogen generation from renewable resources will be the ultimate solution to energy and environment problems. CSIR is a state-funded research and development organization.