New Research


2017/08/01

Chemistry for photosynthesis and artificial photosynthesis

For the fundamental solution of energy and environmental problems

Professor・Shuji Nakanishi, Assistant professor・Kazuhide Kamiya

 In natural photosynthesis, organic matters are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water using sunlight as an energy source. It goes without saying that it is wonderful, if the functions of photosynthesis can be artificially reproduced (that is, if artificial photosynthesis can be realized). Our laboratory focuses on light-energy conversion coupled with electron-transfer in photosynthesis. In particular, we are conducting researches (1) to understand the ingenious electron-transfer reactions in natural photosynthesis and (2) to reproduce the essential properties in photosynthesis with artificial materials.

 

(1) Researches for creation of artificial photosynthetic materials

For the conversion of sunlight into useful chemical energy, photo-generated electrons and/or holes must be captured and utilized for chemical reactions that generate products beneficial to humans. To construct systems that efficiently convert light into chemical energy, catalysts designed to promote redox reactions are a critical requirement. From a practical viewpoint, such redox catalysts should not be constructed using precious metals and/or rare elements. With the aim of environmental sustainability, our group is researching ways to utilize abundant earth elements for developing redox catalysts with high redox activity and stability.

 

(2) Researches for understanding of electron-transfer in natural photosynthesis

In natural photosynthesis, reducing equivalent and chemical energy are produced via electron-transfer chain reactions and photo-induced charge separation. Our laboratory has developed an electrochemical method of manipulating the electron flux in living cells. Based on this original method, we are conducting researches to understand the electron flux in photosynthetic microorganisms and also in photosynthetic ecosystems, with the aim of developing a method of environment remediation using sunlight.

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