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Learning from Photosynthesis

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The green sulfur bacterium makes its home in the chilly waters of the Black Sea. To eek out its lonely existence, this life form scavenges energy from the feeble sunlight available to it at a depth of over 250 feet.

The green sulfur bacterium makes its home in the chilly waters of the Black Sea. To eek out its lonely existence, this life form scavenges energy from the feeble sunlight available to it at a depth of over 250 feet.

Plants perform the same remarkable trick, gathering radiant energy from the sun and converting it to biological energy essential for growth.  This process—perfected over billions of years—is known as photosynthesis.

Now, Hao Yan and Neal Woodbury from ASU’s Biodesign Institute and colleagues from Harvard and MIT, explore new methods to capitalize on Nature’s light-harvesting secrets. Their new study outlines the design of a synthetic system for energy gathering, conversion and transport that may point the way to innovations in solar energy, materials science, nanotechnology and photonics.

“This multi-institute collaborative effort demonstrates a nice use of DNA nanotechnology to spatially control and organize chromophores for future excitonic networks,” Yan said.

Read more at Arizona State University

Image: Hao Yan is the Director of the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics Professor, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry and Milton D. Glick Distinguished Professor, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry. (Credit: The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University)