First Ever Man-Made Leaf That Could Provide Oxygen During Space Travel: A Breathtaking Leap [Watch Video]

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By Indrani Bhattacharyya | July 31, 2014 12:20 PM EST

Science never stops surprising you.

Through an astonishing finding, a completely functional man-made leaf which is capable of absorbing water and carbon dioxide in order to generate oxygen, exactly like natural leaves, has been created by an immensely talented art graduate, Julian Melchiorri.

This artificial leaf could be used as a steady source of oxygen for humans who are on long missions in space and even help us one day to colonise new planets.

According to Julian the leaves also has the potential to transform life on Earth because buildings could be made with the material “to oxygenate homes and polluted urban areas.”

“According to the report by Dezeen, Julian who is a graduate from Royal College of Art told that Nasa is researching ways to ensure a supply of oxygen over long journeys so that people can live in space, but that plants don’t grow in zero gravity. This material could allow us to explore space much further than we can now.”

Mr. Melchiorri, a resident of London; was working on this project while on the RCA’s Innovation Design Engineering Course and he then collaborated with scientists at Tufts University silk lab in Massachusetts in order to engineer the material.

The leaf is made up of chloroplasts from plant cells which were suspended in a web of silk protein. The protein was extracted from natural silk fibres.

He explained further that this material has amazing properties of stabilising molecules.

 This man made leaf is the “first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does”, Melchiorri said.

And like any other original leaf, the novel material requires a small amount of fresh water and light to produce oxygen.

This material consumes very little energy; therefore could be incorporated into modern buildings, to absorb carbon dioxide.

 “As explained to Dezeen, he said it could be used to clad facades, ventilation systems.You can absorb air from outside, pass it through these biological filters and then bring oxygenated air inside.”

Till date he has made lampshades with material, which produce oxygen while lighting up a home.

The project was featured as part of Dezeen and Mini Frontiers.

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