Researchers at Berkeley Lab led by Peidong Yang have developed a genetically modified microorganism capable of photosynthesizing an organic compound from carbon dioxide, wherein the microorganism comprises a semiconductor nanoparticle on the surface of the microorganism.
The necessity of improving the natural mechanisms of solar energy capture for sustainable chemical production has motivated the development of photoelectrochemical devices based on inorganic solid-state materials. Although solid-state semiconductor light absorbers often exceed biological light harvesting in efficiency, the transduction of photoexcited electrons into chemical bonds (particularly toward multicarbon compounds from CO2) remains challenging with abiotic catalysts. Such catalysts struggle to compete with the high-specificity, low-cost material requirements and the self-replicating, self-repairing properties of biological CO2 fixation. Thus, a viable solution must combine the best of both worlds: the light-harvesting capabilities of semiconductors with the catalytic power of biology.
For details, see the published US Patent Application 15/849,245 (Publication 2018/0179512).
STATUS: Published US Patent Application 15/849,245 (Publication 2018/0179512). Available for licensing or collaborative research.