Beacon Transcript – Dutch scientists have developed an artificial leaf that might come to work as a sort of on the go energy source and drug production mini-factory.
Nature developed some of the most efficient systems and processes. Photosynthesis is one such process. This implies converting light into chemical energy.
It is still considered one of the most efficient and useful natural transformations. Humans, animals, plants, and most living organisms depend on it. Humans have, for some time, trying to replicate the transformation.
Dutch scientists have managed to develop such a system through an artificial leaf.
The breakthrough belongs so a team of Netherlands-based Eindhoven University of Technology. They were led by Timothy Noel.
Research results and details were released earlier this week. They were published in the Angewandte Chemie journal, on December 21. It was titled as follows. “A leaf-inspired luminescent solar concentrator for energy efficient continuous-flow photochemistry”.
Their artificial leaf should come to work as a mini chemical plant factory. Such artificial leaves are called LSCs. LSCs are luminescent solar concentrators.
These could come to work as a source of energy. Easy to carry, they could be taken anywhere. LSCs could provide the energy source of chemical processes.
They will also include their own storage capacity. This means that they will be ready to go wherever and whenever one might need them.
Still, the would have a very important requirement. The artificial leaf will need sunlight. If this option is fulfilled, one could theoretically produce drug compounds anywhere.
LSCs work based on a channel network. This very thin channels will work as tunnels. Liquid would circulate through such panels. This would expose the such carried molecules to sunlight.
The special LSC material would be able to capture large amounts of light. The conversion will then have a very specific color. This will be conducted, via light conductivity, to the artificial leaf’s edges.
As such, the silicon, leaf-shaped device could generate and house a chemical-production reaction. The tiny leaf factories were also designed with the light specific in mind. For an increased productivity, the artificial leaf is also coupled with solar cells.
The aforementioned lead, Noel, released a statement. According to him, the natural availability of sunlight was taken into consideration.
As such, experiments were carried out in low light moments. Tests showed the LSC efficiency even on a cloudy day. The LSC artificial leaf material was proven to be 40 percent more efficient.
Nonetheless, its developers are still working on it. Noel stated that the leaf could still generate more uses. He also drew attention to its potentially unlimited future possibilities.
In order to reach them, the scientists are still working on the LSC. They are seeking to increase the energy efficiency. An increased output is also in the making.
Nonetheless, Noel pointed out the availability of this powerful tool. LSCs could enable a sustainable, sunlight-based production tool. This could lead to an easier crop protection or drugs production tool.
The researchers have great hopes for their product. Such a reactor could be used so as to make drugs anywhere. Noel gave the following examples.
A pocket-sized such artificial leaf could be used in the jungle. There, they could help produce malaria drugs. They could also be taken on Mars. When humanity gets there, it could have a portable paracetamol mini-factory.
All they would need would be some sunlight and this artificial leaf. The researchers are also hoping that their device could lead to cleaner practices. They are hoping for more sustainable drug production processes. They also hoping for a less toxic such production.
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