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Previews begin October 2007. Premieres January 2008.

Creating an Artificial Leaf
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Spurred by the looming energy crisis, Nathan Lewis and Sossina Haile are working to invent a new kind of fuel that uses the sun to power the planet. They are attempting to produce a prototype for a truly alternative fuel source — an artificial leaf that emulates natural photosynthesis, converting solar energy into a usable, clean chemical fuel. They hope their pioneering solar cell and fuel cell technologies will eventually end our dependence on petroleum and provide an energy source that won’t pollute our planet.

Special Thanks

Footage of real leaves seen in CURIOUS was shot at New York Botanical Garden.

Founded in 1891 and located just 20 minutes from Grand Central Terminal in New York City, the New York Botanical Garden is home to one of the world’s great collections of real, living plants — the inspiration for Caltech scientists working on innovative energy solutions.

Visitors will find an “ecotour” of the world in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, an indoor/outdoor science museum for kids, and more — all on this 250-acre National Historic Landmark site in New York City’s Bronx borough.

  • comments (22)
  • lucy

    This is the most up-to-date informative show! Ican now be confident my student scientists are getting cutting edge science information!

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  • Susan Fairley

    This is excellent, practical research – please keep providing Updates!

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  • Daniel

    I was wondering where the oxygen goes when you split H2O witht the catalists. The Hydrogen is used in fuel cells, but the oxygen then goes into the fuel cells as well to create water? is that it, or does this product put oxygen into the enviroment much like a tree.

  • Keith

    Where does the hydrogen come from? What are the proton conducting materials, their price range, and suppliers for them? What does NASA use?

  • Brad

    Is there any way I can order these episodes on DVD?? I teach Chemistry and Biology and would love to show this WHOLE episode in class. Great work!!

  • Jerome

    Daniel: the oxygen atom meets up with another oxygen right away to make O2, and into the atmosphere. When you then want the energy back from the hydrogen, pump it into a fuel cell, out comes the electricity, then the hydrogen meets up with that oxygen in the atmosphere (they’ve been wanting to combine again) and when they do, you have water again…to go back to be split by the sun’s energy into hydrogen and oxygen….

  • Jerome

    I thought that by running electricity from a solar panel to a fuel cell and supplying water to the FC, it would split the H2O, you store the H until you need electricity again, run it back to the FC and you then have electricity. What are these scientists trying to do differently?

  • Doodee

    Thanks for sharing

  • Jesspahagolla

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting! Look for some my links:

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  • Jesspahagolla

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well.

  • Tommy

    I’m not sure who Nathan Lewis and Sossina Haile are or where they work or what they are doing. It’s all very vague ‘we’re trying to make an artificial leaf…’ Well, duh, isn’t everyone? What have they accomplished, where is the evidence? This is poor reporting.

  • Tom

    That was pretty interesting.
    but isnt everyone trying to create the “Artificial Leaf”

    Plus its to expensive to Create!

  • David Milunic

    25 years ago, when I was in college, I attended a talk by two Nobel Laureates on the future of energy. One of them (I don’t remember their names) said that “Photolysis” was going to be the future of energy. Needless to say, the other speaker practically laughed. Who’s laughing now?

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  • rem van der zee

    It really sounds interesting and to the point, the only qustion i have is about the amount of water needed, since water is a major problem in the future.


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Resources Credits
CURIOUS is made possible through the generous support of TIAA-CREF.

Additional funding for CURIOUS is provided by:
Peter and Merle Mullin
Stan and Barbara Rawn
TIAA-CREF Produced by Thirteen/WNET New York