How Does a Plant Convert Light Energy to Chemical Energy?

Plants are capable of synthesizing their own food from a few simple ingredients.
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Plants are capable of manufacturing food through a process known as photosynthesis. The process involves taking one form of energy -- sunlight -- and changing it to another form of energy -- sugar -- that the plant can use more readily.


Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through stomata, microscopic openings in the outer tissue layer covering the plant. Roots take in water from the ground and transport it to leaves.

Light Energy

Sunlight provides the energy needed to tear apart water and carbon dioxide molecules so they can be rearranged into sugar molecules. Light energy is crucial to the photosynthesis process.

Chemical Energy

Photosynthesis involves a complex series of chemical reactions that occur in the leaves, which are responsible for converting light energy to chemical energy in the form of glucose, a simple sugar. During the photosynthesis process, six water molecules and six carbon dioxide molecules are used to create one glucose molecule and six oxygen molecules. Oxygen is released into the atmosphere and glucose fuels the immediate functions of the plant or is stored until needed.


About the Author

Robert Korpella has been writing professionally since 2000. He is a certified Master Naturalist, regularly monitors stream water quality and is the editor of, a site exploring the Ozarks outdoors. Korpella's work has appeared in a variety of publications. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images