Beyond nature?


A ‘bionic leaf’ developed by researchers at Harvard University offers intriguing opportunities for converting solar energy into biomass. The possibilities could extend into everyday products, including skin care and cosmetics. 

The new technology is 10 times more efficient than the fastest growing plant at converting the sun’s rays and water into biomass. Here’s how Science magazine summarized it: 

"This scalable system has a CO2 reduction energy efficiency of ~50% when producing bacterial biomass and liquid fusel alcohols, scrubbing 180 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity. Coupling this hybrid device to existing photovoltaic systems would yield a CO2 reduction energy efficiency of ~10%, exceeding that of natural photosynthetic systems."

So what are the implications for skin care? 

Consumers are looking hard at the ingredients and processes used to create cosmetics. By replicating natural ingredients in a cost-effective way, the industry can polish its environmental credentials while still delivering efficacy. 

It’s a practical example of science learning from nature – and perhaps improving on it.