A breakthrough in nature imitation has the world of science abuzz. More specifically, synthetic biological leaves that were created by Julian Melchiorri, a graduate of the London-based Royal College of Art has the scientific world rocking. The Silk Leaf was a collaboration of Melchiorri with a silk laboratory at Tufts University. The leaf, Melchiorri claims, is able to produce oxygen when exposed to merely light and water. You’ve heard that right folks, this leaf is able to generate oxygen without the aid of food nor sunlight. Is this a potential answer to deforestation?
The leaf is created from a matrix protein extracted from silk and chloroplasts, the organic material that allows plants and algae to perform photosynthesis which meant that yes, live plants are still required for the project’s success. Melchiorri shares that the main idea behind his experiment was to efficiently utilise nature in a man-made environment.
One of the projects he created with the Silk Leaf was lighting out of the leaf material, which did not simply supply illumination to a home, but generated oxygen as well. However, Melchiorri’s plans for his invention aren’t just limited to the ground. He explains that it could solve the problem of lack of oxygen for long-term space explorations. “This material could allow us to explore space much further than we can now,” he told Dezeen.
We’re not sure how the Silk Leaf would fare against the elements as an architectural facade, but we applaud ideas that are fresh, new and somewhat noble in conception. When harnessed efficiently, we reckon that Melchiorri’s invention could potentially solve a lot of problems.