Julian Melchiorri, a student at the Royal College of Art, realized that a leaf made from silk protein could photosynthesize, just as plants do naturally in nature, the first synthetic leaf that converts water and light into oxygen. His main motivation was space, leaves capable of living in weightlessness and being able to travel in space.
To achieve this, he extracted chloroplasts (organelles responsible for photosynthesis in plant cells) which he then encapsulated in a solution of silk proteins, which has an impressive ability to stabilize molecules.
NASA is studying different ways to produce oxygen for space travel over long distances. This material could allow us to explore space beyond what we can now.
This is the first time that an artificially created leaf is presented with the ability to perform photosynthesis, its uses could be endless. Among other things, it could be used in spaceships or it could be implemented in architectural structures, both outdoors and indoors, to complement their ventilation systems and allow the creation of more oxygen than it consumes. These leaves use a minimal amount of water and very little light to photosynthesize.