The Economist: Artificial photosynthesis is one of the Holy Grails of chemistry but the complexity of this natural energy-generating process has thwarted efforts so far to replicate it. However, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have brought the goal one step closer by using a genetically-modified virus to help split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
In nature, this first stage of photosynthesis happens with the help of a complex “photosystem” that uses the energy of sunlight to split water apart. The second stage involves combining the electrons and hydrogen ions with carbon dioxide to create carbohydrates such as glucose – plants’ energy food.
The MIT researchers used the virus M13 as a frame for the different molecular components of artificial photosynthesis. The structure of the virus was ideal for the components to attach to in the right positions to interact and perform their water-splitting functions. Read more here.