MIT Researchers Invent Artificial Leaf

Researchers led by MIT professor Daniel Nocera have announced the creation of “artificial leaves” that can convert the energy of sunlight directly into a chemical fuel that can be stored and used later as an energy source. The leaf uses abundant material and could prove a breakthrough in the search for new fuel systems.


The artificial leaf is a a silicon solar cell with different catalytic materials bonded onto its two sides. If you simply place the leaf in water, it generate streams of oxygen bubbles from one side and hydrogen bubbles from the other. No wires or control circuits needed.

It is perfect timing to watch the silicon leaves falling from the trees around MIT with the arrival of autumn.

Source: Science Blog

56 thoughts on “MIT Researchers Invent Artificial Leaf

  1. AY:

    dont we already have a central bank? the Federal Reserve. Or did Hamilton actually want a Bank of the United States for citizens to use?

    Based on the House Post Office scandal, I dont think that would be a good idea.

  2. I just heard someone say that Obama is trying to Nationalize the Banking system….I was like what…my mere response was….I do not think that it started under Obama….the response was well at least Bush did not have his finger in it….I bit my lip and stated that this controversy has gone on for a long time….ever since I read about Hamilton Burr dispute…

  3. What is preventing corruption, eliminating price fixing by market speculators and avoiding war profiteering worth? Energy security is critical to national security. It should not be left in the hands of private industry, their unrestrained profit motives and irrational market mechanisms.

  4. Is association as I describe it here any the less association because everyone enters and leaves it voluntarily, chooses his place in it, judges and bargains for himself, under his own responsibility, and brings to it the force and the assurance of his own self-interest? For association to deserve the name, does a so-called reformer have to come and impose his formula and his will on us and concentrate within himself, so to speak, all of mankind?

    1.124The more one examines these “forward-looking” schools of thought, the more one is convinced that at bottom they rest on nothing but ignorance proclaiming itself infallible and demanding despotic power in the name of this infallibility.

    1.125I hope that the reader will excuse this digression. It is perhaps not entirely useless at the moment when, coming straight from the books of the Saint-Simonians, of the advocates of phalansteries, and of the admirers of Icaria,*15 tirades against the middlemen fill the press and the Assembly and seriously menace the freedom of labor and exchange.

  5. Let us elucidate this point with an example:

    1.119For a man, when he gets up in the morning, to be able to put on a suit of clothes, a piece of land has had to be enclosed, fertilized, drained, cultivated, planted with a certain kind of vegetation; flocks of sheep have had to feed on it; they have had to give their wool; this wool has had to be spun, woven, dyed, and converted into cloth; this cloth has had to be cut, sewn, and fashioned into a garment. And this series of operations implies a host of others; for it presupposes the use of farming implements, of sheepfolds, of factories, of coal, of machines, of carriages, etc.

    1.120If society were not a very real association, anyone who wanted a suit of clothes would be reduced to working in isolation, that is, to performing himself the innumerable operations in this series, from the first blow of the pickaxe that initiates it right down to the last thrust of the needle that terminates it.

    1.121But thanks to that readiness to associate which is the distinctive characteristic of our species, these operations have been distributed among a multitude of workers, and they keep subdividing themselves more and more for the common good to the point where, as consumption increases, a single specialized operation can support a new industry. Then comes the distribution of the proceeds, according to the portion of value each one has contributed to the total work. If this is not association, I should like to know what is.

    1.122Note that, since not one of the workers has produced the smallest particle of raw material from nothing, they are confined to rendering each other mutual services, to aiding each other for a common end; and that all can be considered, each group in relation to the others, as middlemen. If, for example, in the course of the operation, transportation becomes important enough to employ one person; spinning, a second; weaving, a third; why should the first one be considered more of a parasite than the others? Is there no need for transportation? Does not someone devote time and trouble to the task? Does he not spare his associates this time and trouble? Are they doing more than he, or just something different? Are they not all equally subject, in regard to their pay, that is, their share of the proceeds, to the law that restricts it to the price agreed upon after bargaining? Do not this division of labor and these arrangements, decided upon in full liberty, serve the common good? Do we, then, need a socialist, under the pretext of planning, to come and despotically destroy our voluntary arrangements, put an end to the division of labor, substitute isolated efforts for co-operative efforts, and reverse the progress of civilization?

  6. If, according to the socialist plan, the state takes the place of private businessmen in these transactions, what will happen? Pray, show me where there will be any economy for the public. Will it be in the retail price? But imagine the representatives of forty thousand municipalities arriving at Odessa on a given day, the day when the wheat is needed; imagine the effect on the price. Will the economy be effected in the shipping expenses? But will fewer ships, fewer sailors, fewer trans-shipments, fewer warehouses be needed, or are we to be relieved of the necessity for paying for all these things? Will the saving be effected in the profits of the businessmen? But did your representatives and public officials go to Odessa for nothing? Are they going to make the journey out of brotherly love? Will they not have to live? Will not their time have to be paid for? And do you think that this will not exceed a thousand times the two or three per cent that the merchant earns, a rate that he is prepared to guarantee?

    1.115And then, think of the difficulty of levying so many taxes to distribute so much food. Think of the injustices and abuses inseparable from such an enterprise. Think of the burden of responsibility that the government would have to bear.

    1.116The socialists who have invented these follies, and who in days of distress plant them in the minds of the masses, generously confer on themselves the title of “forward-looking” men, and there is a real danger that usage, that tyrant of language, will ratify both the word and the judgment it implies. “Forward-looking” assumes that these gentlemen can see ahead much further than ordinary people; that their only fault is to be too much in advance of their century; and that, if the time has not yet arrived when certain private services, allegedly parasitical, can be eliminated, the fault is with the public, which is far behind socialism. To my mind and knowledge, it is the contrary that is true, and I do not know to what barbaric century we should have to return to find on this point a level of understanding comparable to that of the socialists.

    1.117The modern socialist factions ceaselessly oppose free association in present-day society. They do not realize that a free society is a true association much superior to any of those that they concoct out of their fertile imaginations.

  7. However, let us examine the question.

    1.110For thirty-six million citizens to depart for Odessa to get the wheat that they need is obviously impracticable. The first means is of no avail. The consumers cannot act by themselves; they are compelled to turn to middlemen, whether public officials or merchants.

    1.111However, let us observe that the first means would be the most natural. Fundamentally, it is the responsibility of whoever is hungry to get his own wheat. It is a task that concerns him; it is a service that he owes to himself. If someone else, whoever he may be, performs this service for him and takes the task on himself, this other person has a right to compensation. What I am saying here is that the services of middlemen involve a right to remuneration.

    1.112However that may be, since we must turn to what the socialists call a parasite, which of the two—the merchant or the public official—is the less demanding parasite?

    1.113Business (I assume it to be free, or else what point would there be in my argument?) is forced, by its own self-interest, to study the seasons, to ascertain day by day the condition of the crops, to receive reports from all parts of the world, to foresee needs, to take precautions. It has ships all ready, associates everywhere, and its immediate self-interest is to buy at the lowest possible price, to economize on all details of operation, and to attain the greatest results with the least effort. Not only French merchants, but merchants the whole world over are busy with provisioning France for the day of need; and if self-interest compels them to fulfill their task at the least expense, competition among them no less compels them to let the consumers profit from all the economies realized. Once the wheat has arrived, the businessman has an interest in selling it as soon as possible to cover his risks, realize his profits, and begin all over again, if there is an opportunity. Guided by the comparison of prices, private enterprise distributes food all over the world, always beginning at the point of greatest scarcity, that is, where the need is felt the most. It is thus impossible to imagine an organization better calculated to serve the interests of the hungry, and the beauty of this organization, not perceived by the socialists, comes precisely from the fact that it is free, i.e., voluntary. True, the consumer must pay the businessman for his expenses of cartage, of trans-shipment, of storage, of commissions, etc.; but under what system does the one who consumes the wheat avoid paying the expenses of shipping it to him? There is, besides, the necessity of paying also for service rendered; but, so far as the share of the middleman is concerned, it is reduced to a minimum by competition; and as to its justice, it would be strange for the artisans of Paris not to work for the merchants of Marseilles, when the merchants of Marseilles work for the artisans of Paris.

  8. Otteray Scribe:

    what was true in 1848 is true today. Frederic Bastiat on Middlemen:

    Society is the aggregate of all the services that men perform for one another by compulsion or voluntarily, that is to say, public services and private services.

    1.96The first, imposed and regulated by the law, which is not always easy to change when necessary, can long outlive their usefulness and still retain the name of public services, even when they are no longer anything but public nuisances. The second are in the domain of the voluntary, i.e., of individual responsibility. Each gives and receives what he wishes, or what he can, after bargaining. These services are always presumed to have a real utility, exactly measured by their comparative value.

    1.97That is why the former are so often static, while the latter obey the law of progress.

    1.98While the exaggerated development of public services, with the waste of energies that it entails, tends to create a disastrous parasitism in society, it is rather strange that many modern schools of economic thought, attributing this characteristic to voluntary, private services, seek to transform the functions performed by the various occupations.

    1.99These schools of thought are vehement in their attack on those they call middlemen. They would willingly eliminate the capitalist, the banker, the speculator, the entrepreneur, the businessman, and the merchant, accusing them of interposing themselves between producer and consumer in order to fleece them both, without giving them anything of value. Or rather, the reformers would like to transfer to the state the work of the middlemen, for this work cannot be eliminated.

    1.100The sophism of the socialists on this point consists in showing the public what it pays to the middlemen for their services and in concealing what would have to be paid to the state. Once again we have the conflict between what strikes the eye and what is evidenced only to the mind, between what is seen and what is not seen.

    1.101It was especially in 1847 and on the occasion of the famine*13 that the socialist schools succeeded in popularizing their disastrous theory. They knew well that the most absurd propaganda always has some chance with men who are suffering; malesuada fames.*14

    1.102Then, with the aid of those high-sounding words: Exploitation of man by man, speculation in hunger, monopoly, they set themselves to blackening the name of business and throwing a veil over its benefits.

    1.103″Why,” they said, “leave to merchants the task of getting foodstuffs from the United States and the Crimea? Why cannot the state, the departments, and the municipalities organize a provisioning service and set up warehouses for stockpiling? They would sell at net cost, and the people, the poor people, would be relieved of the tribute that they pay to free, i.e., selfish, individualistic, anarchical trade.”

    1.104The tribute that the people pay to business, is what is seen. The tribute that the people would have to pay to the state or to its agents in the socialist system, is what is not seen.

    1.105What is this so-called tribute that people pay to business? It is this: that two men render each other a service in full freedom under the pressure of competition and at a price agreed on after bargaining.

    1.106When the stomach that is hungry is in Paris and the wheat that can satisfy it is in Odessa, the suffering will not cease until the wheat reaches the stomach. There are three ways to accomplish this: the hungry men can go themselves to find the wheat; they can put their trust in those who engage in this kind of business; or they can levy an assessment on themselves and charge public officials with the task.

    1.107Of these three methods, which is the most advantageous?

    1.108In all times, in all countries, the freer, the more enlightened, the more experienced men have been, the oftener have they voluntarily chosen the second. I confess that this is enough in my eyes to give the advantage to it. My mind refuses to admit that mankind at large deceives itself on a point that touches it so closely.**4

  9. Bron, futures traders influence the market directly. The market no longer responds to supply and demand, but the price the speculators set for it. Those are artificial prices. Sometimes they lose money, but more often seem to make huge fortunes when they are able to buy really low and sell and inflated prices set months before they actually come into possession of oil. It is all about paper and money, not how much oil sits in storage tanks and ships–or in the ground.

  10. $4 Gas: Brought to You by Wall Street
    If oil speculators in Big Finance are making gas prices soar, shouldn’t you know about it?
    —By Kate Sheppard
    Mother Jones
    9/8/2011
    http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/09/oil-speculators-goldman-sachs

    Excerpt:
    It was the summer of 2008, and the entire country was outraged over $4 gas. It seemed like everyone had bought into the idea that the solution to high gas prices was more drilling for oil: Sarah Palin and other prominent Republicans had taken up the “Drill, baby, drill” refrain. Democrats in Congress, so afraid of consumer backlash, let the 27-year-old moratorium on new drilling in the outer continental shelf quietly expire. But what most people didn’t realize at the time was the role that big financial players like Goldman Sachs—not simple supply and demand—played in pushing gas prices sky-high.

    That is, until last month, when someone leaked confidential documents detailing the positions of Wall Street speculators—including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, and Barclays—from a single day that fateful summer, June 30, 2008. More than 200 companies held investments in millions of barrels of oil that day, many of them companies that neither produce nor use oil.

    The documents laid bare the extent to which big banks’ speculating has begun to affect oil prices: Traditionally, those who produce and buy oil have been the big players in the futures market, making calculations about how much oil will cost in the future and drafting contracts to provide that oil at a set price down the line. But now financial players are also in the game, bidding on oil that they’ll never make or use—a development that many say is artificially raising the price of crude.

    According to the office of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), an anonymous source provided the confidential regulatory data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The senator’s office then gave the documents to the Wall Street Journal, which set off a whole heap of outrage from the traders whose identities and positions were revealed. The companies that were outed say that their trading information is proprietary, and that its release imperils their business.

    But Sanders’ office argues that the data is now three years old, so there’s no good reason to keep it secret. Sanders has been using the information to push the CFTC to issue rules that would actually crack down on speculators, in the interest of preventing that kind of spike in the future. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law in July 2010, granted the CFTC authority to craft new rules on commodities speculation, including oil. Those rules were supposed to be completed by January 2011, but so far the agency has only issued a draft.

  11. Otteray Scribe:

    I dont know much about commodity trading but do know that if there is no demand there isnt much a commodity trader can do.

    You cannot tell me that millions of barrels of oil have not been expended in our almost 10 year long war and that the emergence of China and India hasnt led to increases in demand.

    Commodities traders “smooth” out demand and supply and perform a necessary function of “bringing” commodities to market. There is a great deal of risk involved in this type of trading. You guess wrong on the price of North Sea oil in February of 2012 and there is a good chance your ass is going to be out on the loop holding a sign that says “will work for food”.

  12. Wikileaks: Speculators Helped Cause Oil Bubble
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/wikileaks-cables-show-speculators-behind-oil-bubble-20110526

    Excerpt:
    When oil prices surged to a ridiculous $147 a barrel in the summer of 2008, conventional wisdom held that normal supply and demand issues were the cause. Both the Bush administration (in the form of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission) and most of Wall Street (through both media figures and market analysts) blamed such factors as increases in oil demand from the Chinese industrial machine, and the failure of Americans to conserve, for the surge in crude prices.

    Goldman Sachs, while outrageously predicting a “super spike” that might cause oil to reach as high as $200 a barrel, blamed piggish American consumers and preached conservation as a bulwark against oil supply disruptions. The bank’s “Oracle of Oil,” Arjun Murti, even broadcast the fact that he owned two hybrid cars.

    Well, thanks to Wikileaks, we now know that when the Bush administration reached out to the Saudis in the summer of ’08 to ask them to increase oil production to lower prices, the Saudis responded by saying they were having a hard time finding buyers for their oil as it was, and instead asked the Bush administration to rein in Wall Street speculators.

    According to the McClatchy report, the Wiki cables show that Saudi ministers repeatedly told Bush administration officials that increasing production might be counterproductive.

    The cables show that at the height of the bubble, in May 2008, U.S. officials met in Riyadh with the Saudi assistant petroleum minister, Prince Abdulazziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, who told the U.S. he was “extremely worried” that high prices would destroy the demand for crude.

    “Aramco is trying to sell more, but frankly there are no buyers,” he reportedly said, referring to the Saudi state oil company. “We are discounting buyers.”

    The issue here, which I covered somewhat in Griftopia and in “The Great American Bubble Machine,” revolves around the influx of speculative money into the commodities markets. Because of various changes to the way commodities were traded — including a series of semi-secret exemptions handed out to commodities speculators, allowing companies like Goldman Sachs to popularize commodities speculation — there was, by the summer of 2008, a cascade of investor money pouring into commodities, mostly all betting on a rise of commodity prices. Much of this might have been due to money flowing out of mortgages and into the “safe” haven of commodities, with exploding energy prices being an unwelcome side effect. While there was less than $20 billion of speculative activity in commodities in the early 2000s, by 2008 that number had jumped up to well over $200 billion, with virtually all that money being “long” money, i.e. bets on a rise in prices. All of that new money turned into a battering ram pushing prices through the roof. We are seeing the same phenomenon this year.

    The Wiki documents show that the Saudis had long ago concluded that this increased investor flow was a threat to disrupt the markets. An embassy cable from 2007 recounted a meeting U.S. officials had with Yasser Mufti, an Aramco planner. “The Saudi analysts indicated a link between higher oil prices and the influx of investor funds into the oil markets,” it read.

    The cables also show that the Saudis urged the Americans to enact reforms to rein in Wall Street, calling for speculative limits and other changes. It also showed that some Saudi officials believed that speculation added as much as $40 to the oil price during the height of the bubble.

  13. Otteray,

    You took the words right out of my mouth. Here’s a link to one article on the subject of oil speculation:

    Matt Taibbi Blows The Lid Off Oil/Gas Speculation By Goldman Sachs
    http://trueslant.com/justingardner/2009/07/03/matt-taibbi-blows-the-lid-off-oilgas-speculation-by-goldman-sachs/

    Excerpt:
    Most people don’t realize that the insane gas prices last year had nothing to do with increased demand and had everything to do with market speculation and hoarding encouraged by the top investment banks.

    Now True/Slant’s own Matt Taibbi uncovers the truth behind the scam.

    From Rolling Stone:

    And what caused the huge spike in oil prices? Take a wild guess. Obviously Goldman had help — there were other players in the physical-commodities market — but the root cause had almost everything to do with the behavior of a few powerful actors determined to turn the once-solid market into a speculative casino. Goldman did it by persuading pension funds and other large institutional investors to invest in oil futures — agreeing to buy oil at a certain price on a fixed date. The push transformed oil from a physical commodity, rigidly subject to supply and demand, into something to bet on, like a stock. Between 2003 and 2008, the amount of speculative money in commodities grew from $13 billion to $317 billion, an increase of 2,300 percent. By 2008, a barrel of oil was traded 27 times, on average, before it was actually delivered and consumed.

  14. Woosty:

    Reagan restructured the tax system so he could lower the marginal rate. He didnt do it so millionaires could pay more in taxes. During the Reagan years there was almost full employment. In some areas of the country it was like 3%.

    Obama just wants to raise the marginal rate.

    I am not a millionaire but I would go along with ending my tax deduction for my mortgage interest and my personal deductions if they lowered the marginal tax rate to say 10 or 15% for all income whether active [employment] or passive [investment].

    Doing this and reducing regulations would jump start the economy and provide more than enough money to fund social welfare programs. You can have it both ways if you accept the idea that some people are going to become fantastically rich in this kind of environment and some people arent for whatever reason.

    You dont bring some people down to build others up, what happens is that everyone ends up in poverty except the people in government and their friends. We are seeing that now what with Solyndra and GE.

  15. Bron, what do you know about speculators and futures traders? They are the biggest engine driving the price of oil up (and down). It has to do less with the actual supply than with speculation.

    As for the trustworthiness of the big energy companies, I trust all of them about as far as I could throw them–or more accurately, kick them.

  16. Bron,

    Say what? Government would have a lot more money but for the Koch brothers…and if this is a study funded by them…it is suspect….

    Why do you think we went to Kuwait….Saddam? I do not believe it….The Bush Family had some oil wells there as well….We went there to take back the oil that was taken by Saddam….Who were we protecting….Oh yeah…Bankers, Oil Folks and yadda…..What do you think the cost of oil would be today if Saddam had been allowed to stay?

    Your reading is very myopic….based upon what you say….Gas is 2.99 a gallon based upon about 79.90 a barrel…..

    What was the price of gas in Nov 09?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_to_2011_world_oil_market_chronology

    I think nearly a half a trillion in revenue is the key…. between 2004 and 2007….. $494.8 billion

    Your reports are crazy in logic…Too bad Atwater is not alive…maybe he could help spin that tale better….

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