Photovoltaic… enzymes?

Dramatization of the author whenever a paper about photovoltaic technology and biochemistry drops.

Enlarge / Dramatization of
the author whenever a paper about photovoltaic technology and
biochemistry drops. (credit: Nico De Pasquale Photography / Getty
Images)

One of the annoying things that happens when you track
developing science is that you keep seeing interesting results on a
topic, but none of them quite reaches the significance to justify a
news story. This week, another paper that fit the description came
to my attention. Again, these particular results weren’t especially
exciting, but I’ve decided it gives me an excuse to introduce you
to an interesting and potentially significant area of
chemistry.

The area of research that keeps grabbing my attention is a
fusion of photovoltaic technology and biochemistry. Photovoltaics
are useful because they provide a way to conveniently liberate some
electrons. And a lot of enzymes work because they do interesting
things with electrons they obtain from other molecules. So, in
theory, it should be possible to use a photovoltaic device to
supply an enzyme what it needs to catalyze useful reactions. And,
in many cases, reality matches up nicely with theory.

The new paper focuses on using photovoltaic nanoparticles to
drive an enzyme that uses carbon dioxide, incorporating it into a
larger molecule. But the researchers behind it also discover the
process doesn’t work especially efficiently, and they make some
progress toward figuring out why.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Photovoltaic… enzymes?