In a big breakthrough, Rochester researchers used 3D printing for creating an environmentally friendly material made of algae. Scientists printed algae into living, tough and resilient material that is capable of photosynthesis. The material has applications for energy, medicine, fashion, and also for space exploration.
Srikkanth Balasubramanian, the first author of the paper, said, “Three-dimensional printing is a powerful technology for fabrication of living functional materials that have a huge potential in a wide range of environmental and human-based applications.”
“We provide the first example of an engineered photosynthetic material that is physically robust enough to be deployed in real-life applications.”
Artificial leaves could be used for future space colonies
The material so produced could be used for numerous applications, like developing artificial leaves, photosynthetic skins, or photosynthetic bio-garments. In the future, these artificial leaves could be used to generate sustainable energy and oxygen in environments like space.
Artificial leaves like actual leaves use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and energy. These leaves store energy in chemical form as sugars. So, this stored energy can be converted into fuels when required. As a result, these leaves offer a way to produce sustainable energy in places where plants don’t grow well.