Thanks to graduate student Julian Melchiorri, long-term space travel could soon be a reality. Melchiorri worked with Dezeen and MINI Frontiers to produce the Silk Leaf, an invention capable of sustaining life.
The Silk Leaf is a synthetic biological leaf that will absorb water and carbon dioxide and produce oxygen similar to the way a plant does. It was developed through Melchiorri’s Design Engineering course in collaboration with the Tufts University silk lab. As Gizmodo shares, the leaves consist of chloroplasts suspended in a cast made out of silk proteins.
“I extracted chloroplasts from plant cells and placed them inside this silk protein. As an outcome I have the first photosynthetic material that is living and breathing as a leaf does,” Melchiorri said.
The designer notes that he was inspired from the beginning to build off of nature’s own system and take advantage of a proven method.
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