Julian Melchiorri, a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London, claims that he managed to produce a silk leaf, capable of creating oxygen, suitable for travel spaces but also to improve air quality anywhere on the Earth's surface.
The leaf was created in collaboration with a silk laboratory at Tufts University in Boston, United States.
The leaf contains a matrix consisting of proteins extracted from silk and chloroplasts, the latter being some cellular organisms that allow plants and algae to perform photosynthesis. When the leaf receives light and water, it begins to behave like a real leaf and produces oxygen.
"It's a process with low energy consumption," Explains Malchiorri. "It is completely biological and my idea was to use the efficiency of nature in an environment created by man. Initially we created a material to be used for indoor lighting, but this material has the property of producing oxygen for us at the same time."
Malchiorri is not content to think that his silk leaves will be used only inside our houses, he dreams that they will also harden in the outside environment.
"Nasa has conducted a lot of research on the production of oxygen needed for long-term space travel. This material could allow us to explore outer space, much further than we can do at the moment", says Malchiorri.
Apart from these uses, in space, the material could also be used on the facades of buildings and in ventilation systems or inside buildings to generate fresh oxygen.
See the video below:
The "first man-made biological leaf" could enable humans to colonise space from Dezeen on Vimeo.