MIT discovery unleashes solar revolution

First, MIT scientists recharged batteries wirelessly. Now they can mimic essence of plants' energy storage system.

By Amara Rozgus August 22, 2008

In a leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn’t shine.

Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today’s announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.

Now a team led by Daniel Nocera at MIT has found a catalyst that uses cheap, abundant metals—cobalt and phosphorus—and works at an environmentally friendly neutral pH to release oxygen from water.

In this video , Daniel Nocera describes new process for storing solar energy.

Last year , MIT scientists developed the basis for a technology that could bring wireless convenience to battery recharging, allowing you to pack all those adapters into a drawer for good. The MIT team, with members from the school’s physics, electrical engineering, and computer science departments, along with its Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies [https://web.mit.edu/isn/], adapted known qualities of magnetically coupled resonance to transmit electricity from a power source to light a 60 W light bulb 7 ft away.