“Artificial Leaf’ Developed By Dutch Scientists Recreates Photosynthesis And Helps Make Medicine; Can Avert Food Shortage In The Future?

By Jeff Thompson - 22 Dec '16 16:40PM

In a world of complexities and climate change, a development by a group of scientists could bring future means of living. A team of Dutch scientists developed artificial leaf that imitates photosynthesis process done by the leaves and helps in making medicine. An answer to extreme climatic conditions and planetary colonization in the future.

A team lead by Timothy Noël from the Eindhoven University of Technology has materialized the long cherished dream of the humanity and science. Many times, the scientists tried to recreate the photosynthesis process artificially, but couldn't gain any major success. It is found that solar energy which plants use to perform photosynthesis is such a low quantity of energy in which a chemical reaction can't be carried out in the lab. It should be noted that when the amount of energy required increases, the cost of production also increases and the product becomes expensive.

The artificial leaf is made on the working principles of luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs), where these have special molecules that capture even low amount of light energy, store and gets converted into chemical energy. The scientists have created a leaf-like device which is made with LSCs to capture sunlight and capillaries made to pass the liquids through LSCs to carry the light energy and store if required. The capillaries work similar to xylem and phloem of plants that transport food and water.

The new artificial leaf can be considered as an exact replica of leaf in plants and currently the major application is in medicine making. The scientists have expressed happiness that the artificial leaf would enable the medicine making at small scale and at low cost. The LSCs in the artificial leaf capture 40 percent more sunlight than without it and help to work the device as a mini-factory that can be used in jungles or in planets to produce medicines.

Though the artificial leaf started with its application in medicine manufacturing, in the coming years people can see an extension of it into food grain preparation. The ever-increasing population, climate change, rapidly disappearing natural resources and reducing agricultural land is slowly putting the humans into a danger called food crisis. Do the coming decades see artificial leaf making mass food production to feed the humans? It should be.

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