Producing ‘green’ energy — literally — from living plant ‘bio-solar cells’

Although plants can be a source of food, oxygen, and decoration, they are not generally considered good sources of electricity. But by collecting electrons naturally carried inside plant cells, scientists can generate electricity as part of a "green" organic solar cell.

Researchers reporting in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces have for the first time used plant extracts to create a "biosolar cell" capable of photosynthesis.

In all living cells, from bacteria and fungi to plants and animals, electrons are transferred as part of normal biochemical processes.

Scholars including Naum Adair's group turned to photosynthesis to generate electricity. During this process, light drives the flow of electrons from the water, ultimately producing oxygen and sugar.

This means that living photosynthetic cells produce a continuous stream of electrons

Some plants - such as succulents found in arid environments - have thick skins on the inside of their leaves to retain water and nutrients.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Technion VPR Burman Grant for Energy Research and Support from the Hydrogen Technology Research Laboratory (HTRL) at the Technion and a “NAVET” grant from the Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP).

ACS' main offices are located in Washington, DC and Columbus, Ohio

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