This Artificial Leaf Can Produce Drugs Anywhere

Posted: Dec 22 2016, 3:53am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

This Artificial Leaf can Produce Drugs Anywhere
Even with the naked eye the amount of light captured by the 'mini-factories' is visible, lit up bright red. The 'veins' through the leaves are the thin channels through which liquid can be pumped. The start products enter the one channel, light causes the reactions and the end product comes out via the other channels. Credit: Bart van Overbeeke
  • Artificial Leaf doubles as Power Factory in order to produce Medicine
 

An artificial leaf has been made by scientists that doubles as a power factory in order to produce medicine.

A method has been created to manufacture drugs in a low-cost manner and easily, wherever you want and whenever you want. This could be in the midst of a desert or even on another planet.

This is in the form of a tiny factory of sorts. It collects sunlight to make chemical substances. This methodology copies the same thing that happens in leaves when they use sunlight to photosynthesize food for the plant. 

The prototypical reactor instrument was described by the researchers in a journal. The use of sunlight to manufacture chemical stuff has long been a fantasy of many a scientist.

It has almost come true today. The only problem that the researchers faced was that the sunlight was not enough to kickstart the chemical reactions to begin with.

Yet Nature does precisely this without a second thought and so effortlessly. Antenna molecules in leaves catch the solar energy and contain it in reaction centers. Finally, through photosynthesis, the food of the plant is made. 

The researchers built new materials known as luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs). They captured sunlight easily. This light is then converted into a special color.

In turn this is conducted to the edges via light conduction. These LSCs are employed in tandem with solar cells. LCSs were used alongside very thin channels.

A silicon rubber LSC was used in which the liquid could be pumped. Thus the chemical reactions began taking place. Although this reaction was a prime example, it outdid all other results.

It in fact took the researchers by surprise. Even on days when the weather was cloudy, the results were 40% higher than in other experiments which did not employ LSCs.  

A lot of improvements still need to be made before the artificial leaf is marketable. It needs fine tuning and tweaking. From this tool medicines can be made in the future.

There exists a lot of scope for this methodology. Normally, the production of drugs requires harmful chemical processes and pollutants are released in the aftermath of the making of these drugs.

Yet with this artificial leaf, medicine-making could become a cheap and easily available task in the times that are yet to come. 

This prototype reactor, consciously shaped as a leaf, described in today's journal Angewandte Chemie.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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