There have been some pretty amazing innovations in the science and tech world in the last few years, from LED beads for crafting to gadgets like Raspberry Pi turning everyday objects into electronics. But the one that caught our eye (and blew all of those out of the water) this week is Silk Leaf, a manmade material that can actually perform photosynthesis on its own. Invented by London’s Royal College of Art grad Julian Melchiorri, this faux, futuristic, little leaf could mean big things for the future of space travel.
The Silk Leaf is laden with chloroplasts from real plants that are living in a silk protein, which converts to oxygen when exposed to light and water. Just like the plants we have on our windowsills, all this one needs to thrive is a little bit of light and water. Melchiorri designed this scientific wonder as a part of a design-engineering course at his school, with the idea that this manmade plant would be used on buildings or in homes to create larger amounts of fresh air to be inhaled.
Now, if you didn’t do so hot in high school biology, you might be asking yourself why this is so cool. Well, plants inhale the carbon dioxide that we breathe out and exhale oxygen that we breathe in, making our lives bearable. But in places where growing plants are difficult — sayyyy, Outer Space! — Silk Leaf offers one of the first practical solutions to longer travel in different atmospheres. That’s right, folks, Silk Leaf could potentially provide oxygen in Space, providing astronauts with what they need to survive longer journeys that go further away from Earth. And maybe paving the way for your condo in Mars sooner than later.
To learn more about Silk Leaf and its potential, check out this video:
What do you think we could accomplish with Silk Leaf? Tell us your ideas and thoughts about it in the comments below.