Yulia Puskhar, a biophysicist and professor of physics in Purdue’s College of Science, may have a way to harness energy by mimicking plants, reports Tech Xplore. Photosynthesis is a complex dance of processes in which plants convert the sun’s radiance and water molecules into usable energy in the form of glucose. To do this, they use a pigment, usually chlorophyll, as well as proteins, enzymes and metals. “With artificial photosynthesis, there are not fundamental physical limitations,” Pushkar said. “You can very easily imagine a system that is 60% efficient because we already have a precedent in natural photosynthesis. And if we get very ambitious, we could even envision a system of up to 80% efficiency. Photosynthesis is massively efficient when it comes to splitting water, a first step of artificial photosynthesis.” Pushkar’s group is mimicking the process by building their own artificial leaf analog that collects light and splits water molecules to generate hydrogen. Hydrogen can be used as a fuel by itself via fuel cells or be added to other fuels such as natural gas, or built into fuel cells to power everything from vehicles to houses to small electronic devices, laboratories and hospitals. Pushkar posits that within the next 10-15 years, enough progress will have been made that commercial artificial photosynthesis systems may begin to come online.