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Posted Fri Sep 24 2010: from North Carolina State University, via EurekAlert:
Mimicking nature, water-based 'artificial leaf' produces electricity
A team led by a North Carolina State University researcher has shown that water-gel-based solar devices - "artificial leaves" - can act like solar cells to produce electricity. The findings prove the concept for making solar cells that more closely mimic nature. They also have the potential to be less expensive and more environmentally friendly than the current standard-bearer: silicon-based solar cells. The bendable devices are composed of water-based gel infused with light-sensitive molecules - the researchers used plant chlorophyll in one of the experiments - coupled with electrodes coated by carbon materials, such as carbon nanotubes or graphite.... "We do not want to overpromise at this stage, as the devices are still of relatively low efficiency and there is a long way to go before this can become a practical technology," Velev says. "However, we believe that the concept of biologically inspired 'soft' devices for generating electricity may in the future provide an alternative for the present-day solid-state technologies."
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