Navigation Links
First step to converting solar energy using 'artificial leaf'
Date:6/30/2009

An international team of researchers has modified chlorophyll from an alga so that it resembles the extremely efficient light antennae of bacteria. The team was then able to determine the structure of these light antennae. This is the first step to converting sunlight into energy using an artificial leaf. The researchers will be publishing an article on their research findings in the online Early Edition of the PNAS journal in the week starting 29 June. Leiden researcher Swapna Ganapathy has obtained her PhD based on this subject, under the supervision of Professor Huub de Groot, one of the initiators of the research.

Forests at nano scale

They are the subject of dreams: artificial forests at nano scale. Or pavements and motorways where gaps in the surface are filled with pigment molecules that collect sunlight and convert it into fuel and other forms of clean energy. But before this can happen, artificial photosynthesis systems first have to be developed that work both quickly and efficiently.

Two things are needed to generate fuel from sunlight: an antenna that harvests light, and a light-driven catalyst. The article in PNAS is about the first of these: the antenna.

Imitating light antennae of bacteria

The fastest light harvesters are to be found in nature: in green leaves, algae and bacteria. The light antennae of bacteria chlorosomes are the fastest of all. They have to be capable of harvesting minimal quantities of light particles in highly unfavourable light conditions, such as deep in the sea. These chlorosomes are made up of chlorophyll molecules. The art is to imitate these systems very precisely.

German colleagues from the University of Wrzburg in Huub de Groot's team modified chlorophylls from the alga Spirulina, such that they resembled the pigments of bacteria. De Groot's Leiden group then studied the structure of these semi-synthetic light antennae.

Nanotechnology

De Groot: ' Nanotechnology and supramolecular systems are becoming increasingly important, but it is very difficult to determine their structure. So-called cartoons are frequently made that give a schematic indication of what their structure could be.'

De Groot and his colleagues successfully determined the detailed molecular and supramolecular structure of their artificial self-assembled light antennae. They did this using a combination of solid state NMR and X-ray diffraction (see attachment). X-ray diffraction enabled them to determine the overall structure and NMR allowed them to penetrate deeply into the molecules.

Stacking of molecules

De Groot: 'We already knew that the light antennae in bacteria form a structure rather like the annual rings of a tree trunk. The molecules in these semi-synthetic antennae seem to stack in a different way; they are flat. But this, too, is one of four ways we had thought in advance were possible.

New approach

The researchers still have to determine how the light antennae of modified Spirulina chlorophylls work in practice. De Groot: 'This is a completely new approach in this field.'

The new insights are coming in quick succession. Last month, De Groot, with an international team made up partly of different members, also reported a breakthrough in PNAS. In that article he showed how also with a combination of NMR and another technique, namely electron microscopy he had resolved the structure of the light antennae of the bacteria themselves. This allowed the researchers to explain how the antennae were able to function so quickly and so efficiently.


'/>"/>

Contact: Hilje Papma
hd.papma@bb.leidenuniv.nl
31-715-273-282
Leiden University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. Bio/Data Corporation Launches vW Select(TM) - The Worlds First and Only Complete Ristocetin CoFactor Assay
2. febit First to Offer Newly Published Mouse Genome on a Chip for DNA/RNA Detection and Enrichment
3. Scientists create first electronic quantum processor
4. Register to Win a Ski Weekend and Make Your Synthesis Easier with EasyMax™: the First Automated Chemistry Development Tool That Requires No Training
5. First-Ever Egg Donor Web Portal Becomes One of The Largest Resources for Aspiring Parents in the U.S.
6. OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals Completes Amendment to Phase 3 Special Protocol Assessment for Confirming Survival Benefit in Patients Receiving OGX-011 with First-Line Docetaxel for Metastatic Prostate Cancer
7. YM BIOSCIENCES REPORTS DAIICHI-SANKYO ENROLLS FIRST PATIENTS IN PHASE II, FIRST-LINE LUNG CANCER TRIAL WITH NIMOTUZUMAB
8. Virtify, Inc. Delivers Industrys First Enterprise Content Compliance Software Suite for Life Sciences Companies
9. Sinovac Receives Chinas First Influenza A (H1N1) Vaccine Order
10. A-WIT Technologies Releases World's First Low Cost C Stamp(TM) Based Biotechnology Laboratory in a Box
11. MEDomics Announces MitoDx(TM), the First NextGen Mitochondrial Genome Diagnostic Test
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... 13 prestigious awards honoring scientists who have made outstanding contributions ... scheduled symposium during Pittcon 2018, the world’s leading conference and exposition for laboratory ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... The award-winning American Farmer television ... quarter 2018. American Farmer airs Tuesdays at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , With global ... the challenge of how to continue to feed a growing nation. At the same ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... ... of medical marijuana products targeting the needs of consumers who are incorporating medical ... takes place in Phoenix, Arizona. , As operators of two successful Valley dispensaries, ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... advanced instruments and applications consulting for microscopy and surface analysis, Nanoscience Instruments ... consulting, Nanoscience Analytical offers a broad range of contract analysis services for ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:4/11/2017)... Florida , April 11, 2017 ... a security technology company, announces the appointment of independent Directors ... Bendheim to its Board of Directors, furthering the company,s ... ... of NXT-ID, we look forward to their guidance and benefiting ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... KEY FINDINGS The global market ... CAGR of 25.76% during the forecast period of 2017-2025. ... for the growth of the stem cell market. ... MARKET INSIGHTS The global stem cell market is segmented ... The stem cell market of the product is segmented ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... March 30, 2017 The research team of ... three-dimensional (3D) fingerprint identification by adopting ground breaking 3D fingerprint minutiae ... realm of speed and accuracy for use in identification, crime investigation, ... cost. ... A research ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):