ASU-led study represents first step toward artificial photosynthesis


Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Petra Fromme and two distinguished sustainability scientists, Tom and Ana Moore, are among the authors of a study recently published in Nature. Through snapshots obtained using the world's most powerful X-ray laser, the study presents the photosynthetic process as water is split into protons, electrons and oxygen.

This study represents a significant first step toward the development of artificial systems that not only mimic, but surpass the efficiency of natural systems. By revealing the mechanism of the water splitting process, researchers are closer to reaching one of the major goals of the ASU Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production: the creation of an artificial leaf.

This work builds on Fromme’s earlier work, which used the same X-ray laser to determine the structure of a protein. Named by Science Magazine as one of the Top 10 Breakthroughs of 2012, researchers used 178,875 individual laser pulses to generate a diffraction pattern that helped them to decipher the protein’s structure.