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Science News: Will We Be Supplying Our Own Oxygen Soon?

Has the leaf been reinvented?

Julian Melchiorri did not study science. In fact, he is a graduate of the Royal College of Art. Yet this 'artist' claims to have created something that may well revolutonize our enviornment.  According to Melchiorri, he has created a silk leaf that can generate oxygen out of water and light, just like a real leaf. 

This artificial leaf is made of a matrix of proteins, extracted from silk and chloroplasts (the bodies that allow plants and algae to photosynthesize light). Melchiorri explains that the leaf is very light, very low on energy consumption. He himself has created lighting out of the material, using the light not only to illuminate the house, but also to produce oxygen for its inhabitants.
 

But he doesn't just want to change our own enviornment. Melchiorri goes one step further and is already thinking about putting this material to use to help NASA with long distance space travel. The need for an energy efficient method to produce oxygen for astronauts is great, and he hopes his leaf can supply the answer.

Unlike the claim in the video, recent studies on the ISS (International Space Station) have shown that plants CAN grow in space. However, they require a lot of soil, water, manpower and plant room to grow them. An artifical provider might be ideal for space stations, space ships and colonies on other planets, such as Mars, on which NASA hopes to land human feet quite soon. 
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