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'Artificial leaf' gains the ability to self-heal damage and produce energy from dirty water

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This could change things if it is cheap and scales up well.

How can we tell if this is real or just hopeful?

Well, he has his own M&M:

And in minor notes, he runs a project on this at MIT while a professor at Harvard.

Daniel George Nocera (born 3 July 1957) is an American chemist and university professor.[1] His research has focused on the creation of an "artificial leaf" that mimics photosynthesis in plants for use in a decentralized energy system. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Time magazine included him in its 2009 list of the 100 most influential people.[1]

Awards and honors received the American Institute of Chemists Award (1979)received the MIT School of Science Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2005)received the Eni-Italgas Prize for Energy & the Environment (2005)elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2005)received the Inter-American Photochemistry Award in Photochemistry (2006)received the first Burghausen Chemistry Award (2007)received the American Chemical Society Award in Inorganic Chemistry (2009)[9]Nocera has published over 225 papers.[10] He has served on scientific advisory boards and editorial boards of several large corporations. He was the inaugural editor of Inorganic Chemistry Communications, and was the inaugural chair of the editorial board for ChemSusChem.

The American Chemical Society is well known and well placed.  This seems to be the announcement for the latest advance.  We won't know it is really real until they publish and everyone can make one.

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