We have officially moved one step closer to the reality of long-term space travel. Designed by graduate student Julian Melchiorri and made possible by Dezeen and MINI Frontiers, the ‘Silk Leaf’ is a synthetic biological leaf that has the ability to sustain life in unnatural environments.
“I extracted chloroplasts from plant cells and placed them inside this silk protein. As an outcome I have the first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does,” explained Melchiorri.
This revolutionary invention fulfills its purpose by using a method similar to that of the plant life on Earth where water and carbon dioxide are absorbed to produce clean, breathable air. With this sort of technology in place, the staggering and indefinite traverse of the cosmos comes closer to reality. “Plants don’t grow in zero gravity,” said 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 also has many applications for life here on Earth. By equipping homes, schools, offices, etc. with the artificial leaves, these environments can now have their own reliable source of fresh, purified air. Soon we may be enjoying the fresh air of the great out doors while in the comfort of our homes.