New artificial leaf creates fuel from sunlight, water

Indian 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.

Mr Gopinath said his team has been working for nearly a decade to split water molecules in order to generate hydrogen. “Hydrogen burning gives energy and water as a side product, underscoring its importance and relevance to the present-day world,” adding nothing has been done to convert hydrogen into energy although India is a country that gets plenty of sunlight.

The device consists of semiconductors stacked in a manner to simulate the natural leaf system. When 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. At present, hydrogen is produced from fossil fuel using a process that emits a large amount of carbon dioxide a gas that promotes global warming. Auto makers are also trying to make cars run by hydrogen-powered fuel cells.

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