Plant secretions are a useful source of energy.
Inspired by photosynthesis, a research team from Lausanne has developed leaf-like electrodes which, powered by solar energy, can generate hydrogen from air humidity.
The basis for the technology is a thin, light-transmissive and porous mesh made from melted quartz fibres.
After being coated with fluorine-doped tin oxide, the structure becomes highly conductive; a second coating allows sunlight to be absorbed.
Integrated into a sun-exposed box the electrode draws in water molecules from the air and separates the hydrogen through gas diffusion.
The gas passes through a membrane and is collected in a storage chamber. Refining the technology to improve efficiency is the next step.
Yeast, meanwhile, can accelerate hydrogen production.