Scientists turn to Popeye to save planet

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology [profile] reported last week that spinach could provide the missing ingredient needed to make solar cells sufficiently cheap and efficient to provide the world with electricity.

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported last week that the leafy vegetable could provide the missing ingredient needed to make solar cells sufficiently cheap and efficient to provide the world with electricity. The cells work by harnessing the power of photosynthesis to covert light into electrical energy.

The MIT team – which reports its findings in the current issue of the scientific magazine Nano Letters – isolated photosynthetic proteins from the leaves, laid them on a thin gold film, and covered them with an organic material that conducts electricity. When they shone light on this high-tech sandwich, power was produced.