Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > A New Energy Source from the Common Pea

Abstract:
TAU scientists create a solar energy device from a plant protein structure

A New Energy Source from the Common Pea

New York, NY | Posted on March 5th, 2010

If harnessing the unlimited solar power of the sun were easy, we wouldn't still have the greenhouse gas problem that results from the use of fossil fuel. And while solar energy systems work moderately well in hot desert climates, they are still inefficient and contribute only a small percentage of the general energy demand. A new solution may be coming from an unexpected source — a source that may be on your dinner plate tonight.

"Looking at the most complicated membrane structure found in a plant, we deciphered a complex membrane protein structure which is the core of our new proposed model for developing 'green' energy," says structural biologist Prof. Nathan Nelson of Tel Aviv University's Department of Biochemistry. Isolating the minute crystals of the PSI super complex from the pea plant, Prof. Nelson suggests these crystals can be illuminated and used as small battery chargers or form the core of more efficient man-made solar cells.

Nanoscience is the science of small particles of materials and is one of the most important research frontiers in modern technology. In nature, positioning of molecules with sub-nanometer precision is routine, and crucial to the operation of biological complexes such as photosynthetic complexes. Prof. Nelson's research concentrates on this aspect.

The mighty PSI

To generate useful energy, plants have evolved very sophisticated "nano-machinery" which operates with light as its energy source and gives a perfect quantum yield of 100%. Called the Photosystem I (PSI) complex, this complex was isolated from pea leaves, crystalized and its crystal structure determined by Prof. Nelson to high resolution, which enabled him to describe in detail its intricate structure.

"My research aims to come close to achieving the energy production that plants can obtain when converting sun to sugars in their green leaves," explains Prof. Nelson.

Described in 1905 by Albert Einstein, quantum physics and photons explained the basic principles of how light energy works. Once light is absorbed in plant leaves, it energizes an electron which is subsequently used to support a biochemical reaction, like sugar production.

"If we could come even close to how plants are manufacturing their sugar energy, we'd have a breakthrough. It's therefore important to solve the structure of this nano-machine to understand its function," says Prof. Nelson, whose lab is laying the foundations for this possibility.

Since the PSI reaction center is a pigment-protein complex responsible for the photosynthetic conversion of light energy to another form of energy like chemical energy, these reaction centers, thousands of which are precisely packed in the crystals, may be used to convert light energy to electricity and serve as electronic components in a variety of different devices.

"One can imagine our amazement and joy when, upon illumination of those crystals placed on gold covered plates, we were able to generate a voltage of 10 volts. This won't solve our world's energy problem, but this could be assembled in power switches for low-power solar needs, for example," he concludes.

####

About American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University's American Friends are a worldly and intellectually sophisticated group, committed to nurturing higher education and developing Israel's best minds.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Barbara Schreibman
Director of Marketing
and Communications

212.742.9060

Copyright © American Friends of Tel Aviv University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Meet the high-performance single-molecule diode: Major milestone in molecular electronics scored by Berkeley Lab and Columbia University team July 29th, 2015

Detecting small metallic contaminants in food via magnetization: A practical metallic-contaminant detecting system using three high-Tc RF superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) July 29th, 2015

Controlling phase changes in solids: Controlling phase changes in solids July 29th, 2015

New computer model could explain how simple molecules took first step toward life: Two Brookhaven researchers developed theoretical model to explain the origins of self-replicating molecules July 28th, 2015

Possible Futures

Smaller, faster, cheaper: A new type of modulator for the future of data transmission July 27th, 2015

Researchers predict material with record-setting melting point July 27th, 2015

Global Corrosion Resistant Nano Coatings Market To 2015: Acute Market Reports July 27th, 2015

Global Zinc oxide nanopowders Industry 2015: Acute Market Reports July 25th, 2015

Announcements

Meet the high-performance single-molecule diode: Major milestone in molecular electronics scored by Berkeley Lab and Columbia University team July 29th, 2015

Detecting small metallic contaminants in food via magnetization: A practical metallic-contaminant detecting system using three high-Tc RF superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) July 29th, 2015

Controlling phase changes in solids: Controlling phase changes in solids July 29th, 2015

'Seeing' molecular interactions could give boost to organic electronics July 28th, 2015

Environment

Laboratorial Performance of Nanocomposite Membrane Improved in Water Purification July 28th, 2015

Nanosorbents Reduce Amount of Heavy Metals in Petrochemical Wastewater July 23rd, 2015

Nanopaper as an optical sensing platform July 23rd, 2015

Iranian Scientists Use Gas Sensor to Detect Hydrogen July 14th, 2015

Energy

Smaller, faster, cheaper: A new type of modulator for the future of data transmission July 27th, 2015

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity: UC Riverside researchers find a way to use the infrared region of the sun's spectrum to make solar cells more efficient July 27th, 2015

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Provides Update on PCAOB Audited Financials July 27th, 2015

Ultra-thin hollow nanocages could reduce platinum use in fuel cell electrodes July 24th, 2015

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Stretching the limits on conducting wires July 25th, 2015

BESSTECH’s Innovative Battery Technology is Highlighted During Featured Presentations at SEMICON West 2015: CEO Fernando Gómez-Baquero delivers invited remarks at the event’s Silicon Innovation Forum and Semiconductor Technology Symposium July 16th, 2015

Molecular fuel cell catalysts hold promise for efficient energy storage July 16th, 2015

BESSTECH Names Doug Grose as Chief Technology Officer: Former GLOBALFOUNDRIES CEO to drive technology roadmap and strategic partnerships for emerging lithium-ion battery component company July 14th, 2015

Solar/Photovoltaic

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity: UC Riverside researchers find a way to use the infrared region of the sun's spectrum to make solar cells more efficient July 27th, 2015

Rice University finding could lead to cheap, efficient metal-based solar cells: Plasmonics study suggests how to maximize production of 'hot electrons' July 22nd, 2015

Perovskite solar technology shows quick energy returns: New technology beats current solar panel technology in life-cycle energy assessment July 20th, 2015

Nanowires give 'solar fuel cell' efficiency a tenfold boost: Eindhoven researchers make important step towards a solar cell that generates hydrogen July 17th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project