May 26, 2024


Scientists at Imperial College London have invented a leaf-inspired technology that captures solar energy and makes freshwater in the process. 

The design, known as PV-leaf, is made up of glass, photovoltiac cells, bamboo fibres, and hydrogel cells which combine to mimic a real leaf. Water can even move and distribute throughout the artificial leaf’s structure and evaporate from its surface, cooling it down.   

In hot and sunny conditions, solar panels can heat up to temperatures of 65°C or more, which takes a big knock on their efficiency. This is because the increased heat causes the electrons in the semiconductor material to move more energetically, leading to higher resistance and reduced electrical output.  

Simply by mimicking transpiration, the scientists found that the artificial leaf can generate over 10% more electricity compared to conventional solar panels. 

A diagram of a real lifes strucures side by side the artificial leaf design by researchers at Imperial College London