As the fall season is creeping up around some parts of the world, the eyes can turn to the changing appearances of outdoor scenery, like trees, plants and leaves. Leaves bring on a colorful autumn display, and their natural design is often replicated in art, architecture and science.
Julian Melchiorri, a graduate from the Royal College of Art, has invented a fully functional synthetic leaf called the Silk Leaf.
Though it is a man-made version of a leaf it operates as a natural leaf, complete with the processes of a normal plant.
Made from chloroplasts that come from plant cells and fibers from silk proteins, the leaf was created for a course in innovation, engineering and design. The class was a collaborative effort between the university and a silk laboratory at Tufts University.
The material that it is made from will produce oxygen when given water and exposed to sunlight.
Melchiorri also discussed the possibilities of the leaf material for use with space travel, among other ideas that the innovative technology could advance. Some other possible functions mentioned include using the design as construction supplies that could generate clean air and enhance the air quality in nearby areas.
Another interesting use suggested by the designer is to line buildings, structures and even interiors with the Silk Leaf substance.
There is also a concept design for oxygen producing lampshades.
The developer stated the benefit of temperature regulation and the advantages of constructions in areas where the natural offset has been imbalanced, as with deforestation.
Looking to natural designs for useful technological progress is most often a smart model to copy. Plants, for instance, are even smarter than we give them credit for.
Researchers at Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have discovered that plants can communicate with other types of plants in a molecular way.
Recently published in the journal Science, it was found the there was a parasitic connection where plants can actually exchange mRNA molecules with each other. This lets them transfer information at a genetic level.
According to the researchers, understanding how this works can lead to designs to prevent harmful threats to crops, such as parasites that can destroy entire harvests and influence the food supply.
Now the scientists would like to further the discovery by finding out exactly what the mRNA discussions reveal.
For more information about the universe of plant life, check out the video: Attack of the Parasitic Plant!
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