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Solar-driven carbon dioxide fixation using photosynthetic semiconductor bio-hybrids


Solar-driven conversion of carbon dioxide to value-added carbon products is an ambitious objective of ongoing research efforts. However, high overpotential, low selectivity and poor CO2 mass transfer plague purely inorganic electrocatalysts. In this instance, we can consider a class of biological organisms that have evolved to achieve CO2 fixation. We can harness and combine the streamlined CO2 fixation pathways of these whole organisms with the exceptional ability of semiconducting nanomaterials to harvest solar energy. A novel nanomaterial-biological interface has been pioneered in which light-capturing cadmium sulfide nanoparticles reside within individual organisms essentially powering biological CO2 fixation by solar energy. In order to further develop the photosensitized organism platform, more biocompatible photosensitizers and cytoprotective strategies are required as well as elucidation of charge transfer mechanisms. Here, we discuss the ability of gold nanoclusters to photosensitize a model acetogen effectively and biocompatibly. Additionally, we present innovative materials including two-dimensional metal organic framework sheets and alginate hydrogels to shield photosensitized cells. Finally, we delve into original work using transient absorption spectroscopy to inform on charge transfer mechanisms.

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