Business: The Proton Pump

Despite their progress in developing solar cells, giant reflectors and other devices, scientists still lag far behind nature in their ability to harness solar energy. No man-made device can match the performance of the green pigment chlorophyll: through the process of photosynthesis, it converts some 30% of the sunlight striking it into the chemical energy that plants use to create their own food. Even more frustrating, chlorophyll has defied the efforts of scientists to use it directly to produce energy for man; the pigment is highly unstable.

But man may yet employ a natural...

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