Issue Date: January 31, 2011
Biohybrid Catalyst Rapidly Produces H2
A molecular complex consisting of photosystem I (PSI) and platinum nanoparticles serves as a highly active hydrogen-production catalyst when exposed to light, according to researchers at Argonne National Laboratory who conducted the study (J. Phys. Chem. Lett., DOI: 10.1021/jz101728v). Capturing sunlight and using it to produce fuels, for example, by splitting water to generate H2, could help reduce global dependence on fossil fuels and offer environmental benefits. Natural protein complexes such as PSI, which plays a central role in photosynthesis, efficiently mediate light harvesting and photodriven electron transfer. But exploiting PSI by coupling it to a catalytic center that facilitates H2 production has remained challenging. Argonne’s Lisa M. Utschig, Nada M. Dimitrijevic, and coworkers devised a biohybrid system in which catalytic platinum nanoparticles latch onto PSI electrostatically. That approach is simpler and potentially more applicable than tethering the particles via a molecular wire, a strategy reported by other researchers. Control tests indicate that the PSI-Pt complex generates H2 at a rate five times greater than the previous record-setting system, the researchers report.
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