Weird Medicine

Scientists Create Artificial Leaf For More Sustainable Drug Production

Many areas across the world have been facing medicine shortages, especially the remote communities. Lack of access to drugs or treatments could put many people at risk of serious health problems, such as severe infection. 

But what if you can use a portable device to make any medicine you need anywhere you are? That is the idea of researchers from the Netherlands who recently developed a new technology that uses energy from the sun for drug production.  

The device appears and functions like a leaf. Plants are known for the ability to exploit free energy from the sun. 

The researchers at  the Eindhoven University of Technology created an artificial leaf that takes sunlight to power mini reactors that produce medicine for humans, New York Post reported Tuesday. The team started work on the device in 2016 with a prototype.

Now, the artificial leaf system has been updated to better utilize sun’s energy. Researchers said the enhanced device is now able to produce any kind of drug.

The leaf also offers a more sustainable medicine production. It eliminates the need for electric power and chemicals by only using sunlight to generate energy. 

The tiny reactors on the leaf have channels, like veins, which support the flow of energy. When sunlight hits liquids on the leaf, the reactors will then start a chemical reaction. 

Researchers hope the device would be useful in areas where people have poor access to medicine. Producing drugs on-site would significantly help remote communities. 

They cited the need for anti-malaria drugs in the jungle. The artificial leaf would enable doctors to produce drugs when needed without relying on a power grid.

“There are hardly any obstacles to putting this technology in practice, except for the fact that it only works during daylight,” Timothy Noel, lead researcher said in a statement. “Artificial leaves are perfectly scalable; where there is sun, it works.”

He added the artificial leaf would not be costly for communities and could be brought to the field easily. 

“The reactors can be easily scaled and its inexpensive and self-powered nature make them ideally suited for the cost-effective production of chemicals with solar light,” Noel said. 

leaf Researchers from the Netherlands created artificial leaves that use energy from the sun to produce medicines for humans. Pixabay

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