MIT researcher Dan Nocera developed an artificial leaf, so-called because it takes in sunlight and converts it into energy. One leaf floating in a container of water could meet the power requirements of a home in a developing nation. From Discovery News:
“I can take the chip and put it in this bottle of water and just go and hold it up to the sun and you would start to see hydrogen and oxygen bubbles coming out,” Nocera said.
The hydrogen and oxygen could later be used in a fuel cell to generate electricity as they recombine to form water.
The discovery is significant not because it’s the first time researchers have made such a cell, but because it’s the first to use materials cheap enough to make the device practical, Nocera said at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif.