Sunlight-induced catalysis for biofuel and electricity generation

A new graphene-based material architecture for facilitating catalysis has been developed in the lab of Professor Lene Hau. The hybrid biological and nano-engineered structure acts as an artificial cell-membrane to control electron and proton transport and maintain the separation of potentially incompatible and inhibitory chemical species. The architecture comprises a graphene layer supported by a lattice substrate. Enzymes can be chemically tethered to either side of the graphene surface and selected to facilitate a variety of reactions.

Of particular interest, the redox potential and band structure of the graphene layer can be respectively tuned to control electron transfer kinetics and electron transport characteristics, providing a new means for influencing, and accelerating, enzymatic reactions. PSII enzymes, in particular, may be used to produce highly reducing electrons that can be exploited, for example, in solar-powered water splitting.

U.S. Patent(s) Issued: 10,625,250