Researchers at Berkeley Laboratory are developing a bionic leaf
Taking inspiration from the photosynthesis process of plants, Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are on the verge of creating an advanced bionic leaf which will be able to draw energy from the sunlight and convert into an energy-dense fuel. The artificial leaf concept or the Berkeley bionic leaf do not use photovoltaic cell to generate electricity directly from sunlight, instead a chemical reaction is initiated which stores solar energy in the form of hydrogen and can be used later to generate electricity using a hydrogen fuel cell. Therefore, the sunlight to hydrogen conversion process will allow you to store energy in large quantities, such as a hydrogen fuel cell battery.
This process is a much more efficient and sustainable as compared to traditional ways for producing hydrogen which involves a good deal of fossil energy. The development of the Berkeley Lab bionic leaf concentrates more on the use of low cost materials while compromising the efficiency of the photo electrochemical cell. The research team has been working on a hybrid photocathode of cobaloxime (a hydrogen-producing catalyst) and gallium phosphide, a semiconductor that absorbs visible light. These both materials are far cheap as compared to traditional expensive metal catalysts such as platinum and are relatively abundant too.