Movie: Julian Melchiorri on the first synthetic biological leaf
The "first man-made biological leaf" could enable humans to colonise space Dezeen and MINI Frontiers: RCA graduate Julian Melchiorri says the synthetic biological leaf he developed, which absorbs water and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen just like a plant, could enable long-distance space travel. "Plants don't grow in zero gravity," explains 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." Melchiorri's Silk Leaf project, which he developed as part of the Royal College of Art's Innovation Design Engineering course in collaboration with Tufts University silk lab, consists of chloroplasts suspended in a matrix made out of silk protein. "The material is extracted directly from the fibres of silk," Melchiorri explains. Like the leaves of a plant, all Melchiorri's Silk Leaf needs to produce oxygen is light and a small amount of water.
Related: Synthetic Biology and metabolic engineering
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