Asked by: Matt Flint, Edinburgh
Photosynthesis is the process of using light energy to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbohydrates. Plants and bacteria have been doing this happily for billions of years. In 1912, an Italian chemist called Giacomo Ciamician had the idea to copy nature. Eighty years later, the Swedish Consortium for Artificial Photosynthesis was established to work on the problem in earnest. Since then, artificial photosynthesis has been a major area of research all around the globe. The tricky things are making it efficient at the relatively low concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and turning the lab-based science into a working technology!