Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Rensselaer Scientists Unlock Some Key Secrets of Photosynthesis: Research on the Water Oxidation Reaction in Plants and Bacteria Helps Solve an Important Piece of the Solar Energy Conversion Puzzle; Represents a Major Step Toward a New Generation of Photovoltaics

Abstract:
New research led by chemists in the Baruch '60 Center for Biochemical Solar Energy Research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is seeking to detail the individual steps of highly efficient reactions that convert sunlight into chemical energy within plants and bacteria.

Rensselaer Scientists Unlock Some Key Secrets of Photosynthesis: Research on the Water Oxidation Reaction in Plants and Bacteria Helps Solve an Important Piece of the Solar Energy Conversion Puzzle; Represents a Major Step Toward a New Generation of Photovoltaics

Troy, NY | Posted on July 4th, 2012

In a paper published in the recent edition [DOI:10.1039/C2EE21210B] of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Energy & Environmental Science, the scientists — led by K. V. Lakshmi, Rensselaer assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology and scientific lead at the Baruch '60 Center — have provided important information on a specific portion of the photosynthetic process called photosystem II. It has been a major challenge to directly observe the individual steps of the solar water-splitting reaction that takes place in photosystem II, Lakshmi said. This finding provides new foundational research into how plants efficiently convert energy from the sun and could help inform the development of a new, highly robust, and more efficient generation of solar-energy technologies.

Lakshmi was joined in the research by Rensselaer students Sergey Milikisyants, Ruchira Chatterjee, and Christopher Coates, as well as Faisal H.M. Koua and Professor Jian-Ren Shen of Okayama University in Japan. The research is funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences, U.S. Department of Energy.

"The photosynthetic system of plants is nature's most elaborate nanoscale biological machine," said Lakshmi. "It converts light energy at unrivaled efficiency of more than 95 percent compared to 10 to 15 percent in the current man-made solar technologies. In order to capture that efficiency in solar energy technology, we must first tackle the basic science of photosynthesis by understanding the chemistry behind its ultra-efficient energy conversion process in nature."

The new research focuses on the first of two photochemical reactions that plants use to convert solar energy into chemical energy that takes place within photosystem II. Specifically, the researchers studied the binding and activation of the substrate water molecules in the catalytic site of photosystem II. Photosystem II is a protein complex in plants and cyanobacteria that uses photons of light to split water molecules. This is known as the solar oxidation of water. The protons and electrons resulting from this split are then used by the plant to fuel the remaining systems in the photosynthetic process that transforms light into chemical energy.

"Photosystem II is the engine of life," Lakshmi said. "It performs one of the most energetically demanding reactions known to mankind, splitting water, with remarkable ease and efficiency."

One of the difficulties in studying photosystem II is that conventional methods have not yet been able to deeply probe the photosystem II complex, according to Lakshmi, and the mechanism of the photochemical reactions must be fully understood before bio-inspired technologies that mimic the natural processes of photosynthesis can effectively be developed.

In the new research, the scientists investigated the catalytic site of photosystem II, referred to as the oxygen-evolving complex. This is part of the system that breaks down the water. It does so in five distinct stages. Only the first two of these stages have been investigated in any detail, according to Lakshmi, because the remaining stages are relatively unstable and quickly change.

To understand the more unstable stages of the process, scientists need advanced scientific tools that can probe these complex systems at the atomic level. For this research, Lakshmi and her colleagues trapped three different species of photosystem II in one of the more unstable stages of the process - the third stage in the oxygen-evolving complex called photochemical S2 intermediate — by using low-temperature illumination of photosystem II. They then analyzed the system using an advanced spectroscopic technique called two-dimensional hyperfine sub-level correlation spectroscopy.

The tool detects the weak magnetic interactions in the catalytic site to uncover the structure and activation of the substrate water molecules in the S2 intermediate of photosystem II. The technology, found in few labs in the world, according to Lakshmi, identified four important groups of hydrogen atoms arising from substrate water molecules within the oxygen-evolving complex. This is a significant step in determining the fate of the water molecules in the solar water oxidation reaction that occurs within photosystem II, Lakshmi said.

"Water is a very stable molecule and it takes four photons of light to split water," she said. "This is a challenge for chemists and physicists around the world as the four-photon reaction has very stringent requirements."

The article published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Energy & Environmental Science can be found at: http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2012/ee/c2ee21210b

The Baruch '60 Center for Biochemical Solar Energy Research is an integrated research and education program at Rensselaer that was inaugurated in October 2008 under the auspices of President Shirley Ann Jackson and Thomas R. Baruch '60, a member of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees. Researchers at the center are working to develop the next generation of solar technology by studying one of the most powerful energy-converting machines in world — plants. Researchers use sophisticated new technologies and techniques that are being developed at the Baruch '60 Center to understand the energy-converting power of plants and develop new technologies that mimic this extremely efficient natural system.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Mary L. Martialay
Phone: (518) 276-2146

Copyright © Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

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 Links

Download article:

Related News Press

News and information

First Observation of Electronic Structure in Ag-Rh Alloy Nanoparticles Having Hydrogen Absorbing: Storage Property –Attempting to solve the mystery of why Ag-Rh alloy nanoparticles have a similar property to Pd– October 30th, 2014

Iranians Present Model to Predict Photocatalytic Process in Removal of Pollutants October 30th, 2014

Production of Biocompatible Polymers in Iran October 30th, 2014

Amorphous Coordination Polymer Particles as alternative to classical nanoplatforms for nanomedicine October 30th, 2014

Discoveries

First Observation of Electronic Structure in Ag-Rh Alloy Nanoparticles Having Hydrogen Absorbing: Storage Property –Attempting to solve the mystery of why Ag-Rh alloy nanoparticles have a similar property to Pd– October 30th, 2014

Iranians Present Model to Predict Photocatalytic Process in Removal of Pollutants October 30th, 2014

Production of Biocompatible Polymers in Iran October 30th, 2014

Amorphous Coordination Polymer Particles as alternative to classical nanoplatforms for nanomedicine October 30th, 2014

Announcements

First Observation of Electronic Structure in Ag-Rh Alloy Nanoparticles Having Hydrogen Absorbing: Storage Property –Attempting to solve the mystery of why Ag-Rh alloy nanoparticles have a similar property to Pd– October 30th, 2014

Iranians Present Model to Predict Photocatalytic Process in Removal of Pollutants October 30th, 2014

Production of Biocompatible Polymers in Iran October 30th, 2014

Amorphous Coordination Polymer Particles as alternative to classical nanoplatforms for nanomedicine October 30th, 2014

Energy

Iranians Present Model to Predict Photocatalytic Process in Removal of Pollutants October 30th, 2014

New solar power material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat: SunShot Project aims to make solar cost competitive October 29th, 2014

New Compact SIMS at 61st AVS | Visit us on Booth 311 October 28th, 2014

New evidence for an exotic, predicted superconducting state October 27th, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

New solar power material converts 90 percent of captured light into heat: SunShot Project aims to make solar cost competitive October 29th, 2014

Advancing thin film research with nanostructured AZO: Innovnano’s unique and cost-effective AZO sputtering targets for the production of transparent conducting oxides October 23rd, 2014

Magnetic mirrors enable new technologies by reflecting light in uncanny ways October 16th, 2014

Dyesol Signs Letter of Intent with Tata Steel October 13th, 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