July 29, 2014
RCA graduate develops an artificial leaf that’s capable of producing oxygen
Human beings have long since been looking up at space, wondering when mankind will finally be technologically-advanced enough to colonize space. While staring heavenwards recently, we stumbled across this jaw-dropping development by RCA graduate Julian Melchiorri. A synthetically developed leaf, this concept called the Silk Leaf Project, is capable of absorbing water and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen, just the way a real plant does! Quoting Melchiorri, “NASA is researching different ways to produce oxygen for long-distance space journeys to let us live in space. This material could allow us t0 explore space much further than we can now.”
The Silk Leaf Project was developed as part of the Royal College of Art’s Innovation Design Engineering course in collaboration with Tufts University silk lab. Made from chloroplasts suspended in a matrix made out of silk protein, the leaf “as an amazing property of stabilizing molecules.” Not unlike real plants, these leaves created by Melchiorri also require light and a small amount of water to produce oxygen. This is the first man-made biological leaf in the history of mankind and an idea as such could help us step beyond boundaries, in terms of technology and lifestyle. Melchiorri sure deserves a pat on his back for his brilliance!