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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Interfacing nature's catalytic machinery with synthetic materials for semi-artificial photosynthesis.

  • Author(s): Kornienko, Nikolay
  • Zhang, Jenny Z
  • Sakimoto, Kelsey K
  • Yang, Peidong
  • Reisner, Erwin
  • et al.

Semi-artificial photosynthetic systems aim to overcome the limitations of natural and artificial photosynthesis while providing an opportunity to investigate their respective functionality. The progress and studies of these hybrid systems is the focus of this forward-looking perspective. In this Review, we discuss how enzymes have been interfaced with synthetic materials and employed for semi-artificial fuel production. In parallel, we examine how more complex living cellular systems can be recruited for in vivo fuel and chemical production in an approach where inorganic nanostructures are hybridized with photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic microorganisms. Side-by-side comparisons reveal strengths and limitations of enzyme- and microorganism-based hybrid systems, and how lessons extracted from studying enzyme hybrids can be applied to investigations of microorganism-hybrid devices. We conclude by putting semi-artificial photosynthesis in the context of its own ambitions and discuss how it can help address the grand challenges facing artificial systems for the efficient generation of solar fuels and chemicals.

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