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Spinach Solar Cell

September 25, 2012

A protein in spinach packs a punch when it comes to converting solar energy into electricity.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Energy from spinach…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A protein in spinach and other greens is extremely efficient at converting sunlight into chemical energy via photosynthesis. Now, scientists have combined the protein with silicon to create a very green-looking solar cell. Vanderbilt University researchers Kane Jennings and David Cliffel led the research.

DAVID CLIFFEL (Vanderbilt University):

Our device works by absorbing the light in the photosynthetic proteins and then  basically charging up a battery.

HIRSHON:

Cliffel says spinach yields a lot of the protein, called Photosystem I, because its leaves are so large and green, but other plants could also be used. He adds that the new solar cell produces a much stronger electrical current than previous hybrid designs.

CLIFFEL:

Learning how nature has solved some of these problems like harnessing the sun  is an area that really hasn’t been explored.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

A spinach-silicon bio-hybrid solar cell. (Amrutur Anilkumar)