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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.



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.


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.


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


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

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