One of the challenges to long distance space travel is being able to manufacture things along the way. Having to escape the Earth’s gravity is a challenge. Granted, it is improving with a competitive new space race but it still costs anywhere from 11.2 to 34.5 dollars per ton to launch a rocket.
While there is an abundance of solar energy available in space, plants are the most efficient harvesters of sunlight. It makes sense to mimic them for both energy and manufacturing. While the journal article is paywalled, Science Daily reports that this new process uses new materials called luminescent solar concentrators. These LSCs mimic what a leaf already does. It is reported that, even on a cloudy day, the process is 40% more productive than processes without using LSC.