Photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into food and oxygen, represents some of the most advanced technology engineered by Mother Nature. And now Tel Aviv University researcher Professor Hanoch Carmeli has discovered a way to harness the process of photosynthesis to create electricity.
Carmeli explains that since plants are the earliest source of energy on the planet, they have had hundreds of millions of years in which to evolve a perfect process of energy production.
Because it is so efficient, the process of photosynthesis takes place in a tiny nano-sized protein within the plant cells. Plant molecules act as “wires” that channel the energy from cell to cell.
Carmeli’s idea was isolate the plant protein where sunlight is converted into electricity, dry it, and place it between two electrodes. These electrodes are transparent so that sunlight can pass through them and into the protein, galvanizing the process of photosynthesis. The result is a renewable, pollution-free method of producing energy. This device is also potentially cheaper to manufacture than conventional solar cells, which are made of expensive materials such as silicon.
“After we develop this device, it will come out cost-effective and possibly even cheaper than the electricity we get today,” says Carmeli.