Looking to Mother Nature to help improve energy production by UC Science Today


Researchers at the University of California, Berkley, are competing with Mother Nature to improve energy production skills. In particular, physicist Jeffrey Neaton is working on making photosynthesis more efficient.

“A leaf can convert the energy in sun light into fuel with a one to two percent efficiency. A major Department of Energy program that I’m part of, the joint center for artificial photosynthesis, has recently developed a prototype material that is made of semiconductors that can go from sunlight to fuel at 10 percent efficiency. Much greater efficiency than plants, actually”.

Neaton is working on an artificial leaf that could generate fuel and can someday become a new alternative energy source.

“Right now the artificial leaf prototypes are not made of materials that are cheap enough or abandoned enough to be saleable to a level where they will impact society yet.”

But technology moves forward fast. Take solar panels, for example. In just 10 years, the price of this energy source has fallen by over 60 percent. So, we may want to use an artificial leaf sooner than we think. For Science Today, I’m Larissa Branin.

Time: a little over. The 1st bite can be trimmed I think. Last sentence, in Italic.