The first mad-made leaf has been created, literally opening up a world of possibilities.
Space colonisation is a fantastic dream hindered by one dilemma: there's a serious lack of oxygen in the Universe. However, due to recent advancements by a Royal College of Art graduate, humans might one day be able to go where no man has gone before, all while breathing without the aid of a space suit.
Julian Melchiorri has developed a biologically functional leaf that consists of chlorplasts and can therefore support photosynthesis. More specifically, the man-made leaf can release oxygen after consuming carbon dioxide, water, and light. The leaf features a body made of silk protein, which Melchiorri described as having an amazing property of stabilizing chloroplast organelles.
"As an outcome I have the first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does," he said, noting his leaf could not only aid space travel in the future but also provide fresh air for current places on Earth. Buildings in cities, for instance, might sport a thin outerlayer composed entirely of his leaf material, enabling the structure to output clean oxygen.
In other words, Melchiorri's leaf could help humans sustain life both on Earth and in the Universe. Watch the video above for more information.