The Index Project
Index Award 2017 Finalists
An artificial leaf producing medicine with solar power

Pharmaceuticals are often made with high-temperature processes, which require access to either a power grid or fossil fuels. However, basically everywhere (this planet, but also on other planets) light is available in abundance and is entirely possible to harvest.

Inspired by the tree leaf, which collects sunlight and uses its energy to produce chemicals, the LSC-PM is a scalable ‘chemical factory’ driven by solar power. It uses luminescent dyes in a transparent host to collect, convert, transport, and focus sunlight onto tiny embedded channels, which contain flowing photosensitive chemical building blocks. Essentially, all this means that the LSC-PM is capable of producing local, inexpensive, environmentally friendly chemicals and medicines without needing large machines - or perhaps without even needing electricity.

By making the devices practical for use in the remotest of environments, the LSC-PM could impact the lives of millions of people everywhere in the world who currently do not have access to proper medical treatment. In addition, its bright colors and wide variety of possible shapes make them attractive and viable for integration into built environment and existing markets. Currently, the company is working on a scaled-up version of the LSC-PM with many parallel leafs like a real tree.