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DOE funds bio-inspired solar fuel center at Arizona State
Date:4/30/2009

r. For more than 2.5 billion years, photosynthetic organisms have been harvesting sunlight and using it to remove electrons from water and produce biological fuels. This process involves both solar energy harvesting units that use light to produce electrochemical energy, and biochemical catalysts that use this energy to remove electrons from water molecules and employ them to make fuels such as carbohydrates and oils.

Following the natural design principles of photosynthesis, scientists in the new ASU center will investigate how to make artificial analogs of these catalysts and light harvesting units, and how to put them together to build a complete system that uses sunlight to oxidize water (producing oxygen gas) and make hydrogen or other fuels.

"This project demonstrates the best of chemistry and biochemistry research," said William Petuskey, chair of ASU's chemistry and biochemistry department. "It combines the creativity of making new molecules that have not existed before with the purpose of designing in functionality that converts solar light to other useful forms of energy. This effort is the culmination of groundbreaking research that will lead to establishing bioenergy as a major field of research and economic development."

ASU principal investigators on the project in addition to Gust include: professors James Allen, Petra Fromme, Giovanna Ghirlanda, Anne Jones, Yan Liu, Ana Moore, Thomas Moore, Kevin Redding, Dong-Kyun Seo and Hao Yan, as well as Clark Miller from the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO).

The 46 EFRCs, each funded at $2 to $5 million per year for an initial five-year period, were selected from a pool of some 260 applications. Researchers at the newly formed EFRCs will take advantage of new capabilities in nanotechnology, high-intensity light sources, neutron-scattering sources, supercomputing and other advanced instrumentation in an effort to lay the scientific groundwork for fund
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Contact: Skip Derra
skip.derra@asu.edu
480-965-4823
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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