Hugh Bollinger
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Artificial photosysntesis---the "real deal" game-changer

Biology, mathematics, and chemistry, were like playing for me-- physics, however, was a big stretch. I barely passed exams on vectors, forces, and electric currents in my college physics class. Years later, I toured a physics research lab in Colorado where they were trying to create artificial photosynthesis using a solid gold aspen leaf attached to a couple of wires. I thought the physics guys were crazy attempting to duplicate the process that powers life on Earth when green plants do it just fine by using only CO2, sunlight, and water. I guess I shouldn't have been so dismissive of these early attempts as artificial photosynthesis investigations at CalTech and MIT now demonstrate. Developing new photo-sensitive materials and applying special catalysts, Nathan Lewis (CalTech) and Daniel Nocera (MIT) have reproduced the basic process of plant life by artificially separating water into hydrogen and oxygen using sunlight. Hydrogen is predicted to be a major fuel for our energy future but it's expensive to produce currently. If the materials developed at CalTech and MIT can be manufactured inexpensively and at scalable volumes, we will have another "game changer" alternative energy technology for commercialization. An article on these exciting lab results is ready for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). [caption id="attachment_4278" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="CalTech & MIT researchers create artificial photosynthesis. source: New York Times"][/caption] The gold aspen leaf was a research bust but the new materials could represent the "real deal" leading us away from fossil fuel dependency and imported energy as well as environmental calamities and climate change threats. Let the new game begin! WHB  
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