The amazing artificial leaf that speaks Italian and was created by the IIT of Genoa is proof that the power that is of future generations originates from wind and rain.

One of the most exciting areas of soft robotics biohybrid is the interplay between living things and technological systems. The Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa has now developed a technology that, when incorporated into plants, can produce energy from both wind and rainfall. In a simple conclusion: a fake leaf.

It operates in wind and rain and generates enough electricity to run LED lights and keep the gadget running. This novel artificial leaf might be used in environmental monitoring and agriculture, among other things. In evaluating vegetation health and weather conditions, performance is ideal.

The IIT of Genoa’s fake leaf and how it functions

The gadget must be put into actual plant leaves for it to function. The synthetic leaf or bionic leaf possesses an inner layer of silicon elastomer that creates and gathers static charges brought on by leaf movement. There is a coating of fluorinated ethylene propylene on the upper surface.

IIT researcher Fabian Meder, an expert in biomimetic tissue engineering, says that as leaves travel in the air, the two surfaces contact and then separate, generating static charges on both our device and the cuticle of the leaf. An electrode put into to the plant cells allows us to gather the current produced by these charges in the interior tissue that results of the plant.

In conclusion, the team has advanced its research by developing a system that can capture energy even from rainfall. This technology has improved from energy harvesters already built into plants that make use of a comparable method to produce power from the wind.

The innovative gadget can also produce more electricity when it is wet, making it a multipurpose power harvest or self-powered sensor.


The study is published in the journal IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.

Study abstract:

Soft (bio)hybrid robotics aims at interfacing living beings with artificial technology. It was recently demonstrated that plant leaves coupled with artificial leaves of selected materials and tailored mechanics can convert wind-driven leaf fluttering into electricity. Here, we significantly advance this technology by establishing the additional opportunity to convert kinetic energy from raindrops hitting the upper surface of the artificial leaf into electricity. To achieve this, we integrated an extra electrification layer and exposed electrodes on the free upper surface of the wind energy harvesting leaf that allow to produce a significant current when droplets land and spread on the device. Single water drops create voltage and current peaks of over 40V and 15µA and can directly power 11 LEDs. The same structure has the additional capability to harvest wind energy using leaf oscillations. This shows that environment-responsive biohybrid technologies can be tailored to produce electricity in challenging settings, such as on plants under motion and exposed to rain. The devices have the potential for multisource energy harvesting and as self-powered sensors for environmental monitoring, pointing at applications in wireless sensor networks (WSNs), the Internet of Things (IoT), smart agriculture, and smart forestry.

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