As the world is struggling to meet rising energy demand, along with rising CO levels2 in the atmosphere of deforestation and the use of fossil fuels,
photosynthesis in nature just can not keep up with the carbon cycle.
But what if we can help the natural carbon cycle by learning from it
photosynthesis to generate our own sources of energy that do not
generates CO2? Artificial photosynthesis does exactly that, it uses solar energy to generate fuel in a way that minimizes CO2 production.
In a recent article published in Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS),
a team of researchers led by Hao Ian, Jan Liu and Neil Woodbury of
School of Molecular Sciences and Biodegradation Center for Molecular Design
and Biomimetics at Arizona State University are making significant progress
in optimizing systems that mimic the first stage of photosynthesis,
capturing and using light energy from the sun.
Recalling what we have learned in the Biology class, the first step
photosynthesis in the plant leaves is the capture of light energy from chlorophyll
molecules. The next step is the effective transfer of this light energy
to the part of the photosynthetic reaction center, where
light powered chemistry. This process, called energy
transfer, is effected effectively in natural photosynthesis in the antenna
complex. Like the radio or television antenna,
The photosynthetic antenna complex is to collect the absorbed light energy
and point it to the right place. How can we build our own "energy"
transfer antenna complexes ", i.e., artificial structures that absorb
light energy and pass it off to where it can be used?
"Photosynthesis has mastered the art of collecting light energy and
moving it over considerable distances to the proper light-driving location
chemistry. The problem with the natural complexes is
that they are difficult to reproduce from a design point of view; we can use
they are as they are, but we want to create systems that serve our own
goals, "says Woodbury. "Using some of the same tricks as nature,
but in the context of the DNA structure we can design accurately, we
overcome this constraint and allow the creation of light crops
systems that effectively transfer the energy of light if we want it. "
Jan's lab has developed a way to use DNA for self-collecting structures
which can serve as templates for assembling molecular complexes
almost unlimited control of size, shape and function. Use of DNA
architecture as a template, the researchers were able to aggregate paint
molecules in structures that capture and transfer energy over dozens
nanometers with loss of efficiency <1% per nanometer. In that
In this way, paint aggregates mimic the function of chlorophyll
the antenna complex under natural photosynthesis through efficient transfer
light energy over long distances from where it is absorbed, and
where it will be used.
Further study of biomimetic light-harvest complexes based on
self-assembled nanostructures with dye DNA, Yan, Woodbury and Lin
received a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE). In the previous one
DOE-funded work, Yan and his team have demonstrated the benefits of DNA
serves as a programmable pattern for aggregation of dyes. To build
these findings, they will use the photon principles that are at the root
complexes for collecting natural light to build programmable structures
based on self-organizing DNA, which provides a flexible platform
needed for the design and development of complex molecular photons
"It's great to see that DNA can be programmed as a scaffold template
to imitate antennas to collect the light of nature to transfer energy to it
long distances, "Jan said. – This is a great demonstration of research
the result of a highly interdisciplinary team. "
Potential results from this study may reveal new ways
capture and transfer of energy over long distances without a network
loss. In turn, the impact of this study can lead the way
designing more efficient energy conversion systems that will reduce ours
dependence on fossil fuels.
"I was happy to take part in this study and be able to do it
upgrading long-term work, continuing to very fruitful
collaboration with scientists and engineers at Eastman Kodak and
University of Rochester, "said David G. Whitton of the University of New York
Mexico, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. "This
studies involving the use of their cyanins to form aggregated groups
where the transfer of energy over long distances between a donor cyanine aggregate and a
an acceptor occurs. "
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