"And the stars are projectors, yeah, projecting our lives down to this planet Earth." - Modest Mouse
Researchers at MIT have created a process that uses spinach leaves as a power source.
[Marc] Baldo's team isolated a variety of photosynthetic proteins from spinach and sandwiched them between two layers of conducting material. When light was shone on to the tiny cell, an electrical current was generated.
The proteins were layered on to a thin gold film, attached to a sheet of transparent, electrically conducting metal, and then covered with a top layer of organic, conducting material. When light is shone on to the unlikely sandwich, the proteins spit out electrons, which pass into the lower layer in the form of an electric current.
The prototype cells still need a little refinement. At present, they can generate current for up to 21 days; then they give up. So alternatives that last longer are needed.
The cells also convert only about 12% of the absorbed light energy into electricity. Still, the researchers believe that it should be possible to reach 20% efficiency, which is better than typical values for commercial silicon solar cells.
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