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What is a bionic leaf?

JackSawyer MA, United States 0 Ratings 23 Discussions 0 Group posts

Posted by: JackSawyer // Student

A bionic leaf? It may sound like something out of a Star Trek movie, but on June 2nd scientists at Harvard University announced that they have created an artificial leaf that is able to perform photosynthesis ten times better than its natural counterpart. Pamela Silver and Daniel Nocera, both professors at Harvard, combined “solar panels, genetically modified bacteria and a synthetic catalyst to create [the] system” (Kaplan). When placed in water and hit by sunlight the bionic leaf can create a variety of biofuels. This groundbreaking invention could allow us to completely rethink how and where we harvest our energy. For example, the leaves could potentially be laid across parts of the ocean to generate energy and be a lot easier to set up than wind turbines. The fruits of Pamela and Daniel’s labour could send ripples throughout the energy industry.

The bionic leaf reinvigorates the discussion as to why and how we are still dependent on oil. The leaf is a sustainable energy method that, if it becomes cost effective, could be more practical than oil and certainly less toxic to our planet. With all this in mind, it makes me wonder what it will take in order for us to truly distance ourselves from fossil fuels. What do you think of the bionic leaf?


Kaplan, Sarah. "Scientists Say They’ve One-upped Photosynthesis with a ‘bionic Leaf’." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 2 June 2016. Web. 04 June 2016. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/06/02/scientists-say-theyve-one-upped-photosynthesis-with-a-bionic-leaf/>.

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