Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Nanoparticles help scientists harvest light with solar fuels

Abstract:
The humble alga, hated by boaters and pool owners, may someday help provide us with the raw machinery to power our appliances.

Nanoparticles help scientists harvest light with solar fuels

Argonne, IL | Posted on May 19th, 2011

A group of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, led by chemist Lisa Utschig, has linked platinum nanoparticles with algae proteins, commandeering photosynthesis to produce hydrogen instead. The system produces hydrogen at a rate five times greater than the previous record-setting method.

"If you are considering the question 'How do we get energy from the sun,' you always come back to photosynthesis," Utschig said. "Photosynthesis does it best. It's been engineered over millions of years."

Utschig and Tiede are part of Argonne's Photosynthesis Group, which has worked for fifty years to understand photosynthesis—one of the most mysterious and wonderful chemical processes in the world. Photosynthesis built a green Earth out of the bare, meteor-blistered planet which had sat empty for a billion years; it tipped the composition of the atmosphere towards oxygen, allowing all kinds of life to blossom, including us.

The chemistry group is part of a larger effort to develop efficient ways to produce what are termed solar fuels. Most people think of solar panels when they think of solar energy, but the energy that solar panels generate has to be used right away—they directly create electricity, which can't be stored easily.

The alternative is solar fuels, which pull energy from the sun to create fuel that can be stored for later, such as hydrogen. Hydrogen, a promising fuel in the effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, is appealingly clean: when it's burned as fuel, water is the byproduct. But we have yet to discover a low-cost way to manufacture large amounts of hydrogen.

"Basically, we've been reverse-engineering photosynthesis," said Argonne chemist David Tiede, who co-authored the paper. "If we understand how Nature does it, we can tweak the process to produce hydrogen."

Most solar fuel efforts focus on a type of protein complex called Photosystem I, or PSI, which is the first half of the photosynthetic duo found in all green plants.

When light strikes the PSI complex, it momentarily knocks an electron into an "excited" state. The goal is to separate this electron from its home atom—leaving behind a "hole" of positive charge—and channel it to an artificial catalyst to make hydrogen. But the electron only remains excited for the tiniest fraction of a second; the catalyst needs to grab it during this tiny window.

With co-author Nada Dimitrijevic, the team designed platinum nanoparticle catalysts. These catalysts have a size and surface chemistry that allows them to stick to PSI molecules at the point where the light-generated electrons accumulate. When the modified platinum nanoparticles and PSI are mixed in water, the two link together.

"The platinum nanoparticles have the same size and surface charge as the molecule that PSI would bind to naturally," Tiede said.

Because the study design used platinum as a catalyst, which is too expensive to be cost-effective, the research serves as proof-of-concept. Further studies hope to improve the method's efficiency, reliability and economics.

"The next step we'll take is experimenting with non-platinum catalysts," Utschig said. "Hopefully we can find a catalyst that can be made with a cheaper metal, which would make the process much more attractive on a large scale."

The paper, "Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production from Noncovalent Biohybrid Photosystem I/Pt Nanoparticle Complexes," was published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters and is available online.

The research was supported by the Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

####

About Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Louise Lerner
630/252-5526

Copyright © Argonne National Laboratory

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

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. to Publish PCAOB Audited Financials July 31st, 2014

Nanostructured metal-oxide catalyst efficiently converts CO2 to methanol: Highly reactive sites at interface of 2 nanoscale components could help overcome hurdle of using CO2 as a starting point in producing useful products July 31st, 2014

Carnegie Mellon Chemists Create Nanofibers Using Unprecedented New Method July 31st, 2014

Pressure probing potential photoelectronic manufacturing compound July 31st, 2014

NanoScience: Giants of the Infinitesimal July 31st, 2014

Laboratories

Nanostructured metal-oxide catalyst efficiently converts CO2 to methanol: Highly reactive sites at interface of 2 nanoscale components could help overcome hurdle of using CO2 as a starting point in producing useful products July 31st, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Study finds physical link to strange electronic behavior: Neutron measurements offer new clues about iron-based superconductor July 31st, 2014

Nanostructured metal-oxide catalyst efficiently converts CO2 to methanol: Highly reactive sites at interface of 2 nanoscale components could help overcome hurdle of using CO2 as a starting point in producing useful products July 31st, 2014

Carnegie Mellon Chemists Create Nanofibers Using Unprecedented New Method July 31st, 2014

Pressure probing potential photoelectronic manufacturing compound July 31st, 2014

Discoveries

Study finds physical link to strange electronic behavior: Neutron measurements offer new clues about iron-based superconductor July 31st, 2014

Nanostructured metal-oxide catalyst efficiently converts CO2 to methanol: Highly reactive sites at interface of 2 nanoscale components could help overcome hurdle of using CO2 as a starting point in producing useful products July 31st, 2014

Carnegie Mellon Chemists Create Nanofibers Using Unprecedented New Method July 31st, 2014

Pressure probing potential photoelectronic manufacturing compound July 31st, 2014

Announcements

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. to Publish PCAOB Audited Financials July 31st, 2014

Nanostructured metal-oxide catalyst efficiently converts CO2 to methanol: Highly reactive sites at interface of 2 nanoscale components could help overcome hurdle of using CO2 as a starting point in producing useful products July 31st, 2014

Carnegie Mellon Chemists Create Nanofibers Using Unprecedented New Method July 31st, 2014

Pressure probing potential photoelectronic manufacturing compound July 31st, 2014

Energy

Nanostructured metal-oxide catalyst efficiently converts CO2 to methanol: Highly reactive sites at interface of 2 nanoscale components could help overcome hurdle of using CO2 as a starting point in producing useful products July 31st, 2014

From Narrow to Broad July 30th, 2014

Oregon chemists eye improved thin films with metal substitution: Solution-based inorganic process could drive more efficient electronics and solar devices July 21st, 2014

Steam from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam July 21st, 2014

Nanobiotechnology

Harris & Harris Group Invests in Unique NYC Biotech Accelerator July 29th, 2014

Seeing is bead-lieving: Rice University scientists create model 'bead-spring' chains with tunable properties July 28th, 2014

FEI adds Phase Plate Technology and Titan Halo TEM to its Structural Biology Product Portfolio: New solutions provide the high-quality imaging and contrast necessary to analyze the 3D structure of molecules and molecular complexes July 28th, 2014

Scientists Test Nanoparticle "Alarm Clock" to Awaken Immune Systems Put to Sleep by Cancer July 25th, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

From Narrow to Broad July 30th, 2014

Steam from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam July 21st, 2014

Making dreams come true: Making graphene from plastic? July 2nd, 2014

Shrinky Dinks close the gap for nanowires July 1st, 2014

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







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE