Shedding light on Nature’s nanoscale control of solar energy

July 30, 2012

Across billions of years of evolution, nature has retained a common light-absorbing hexameric cofactor core for carrying out the very first chemical reaction of photosynthesis, the light-induced electron transfer across approximately 3 nanometers.

This process has direct analogies to light-driven charge separation in photovoltaic devices. A team of users from the Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory and Argonne’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division working with the Center for Nanoscale Materials’ Nanophotonics Group have carried out experiments that shed new light on how this process occurs.

The impact of this work is that it provides a clearer, more detailed picture of the first steps in photosynthetic energy conversion, identifies a role for delocalized excited-states, and provides new experimental and data analysis approaches for studying the unusual efficiency of light harvesting and charge separation processes in natural photosystems.

Reference: L. Huang (Radiation Laboratory, Notre Dame), N. Ponomarenko (CSE, ANL), G. P. Wiederrecht (CNM), D. Tiede (CSE, ANL), Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 2012, 109 (13), 4851.