Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

DNA constructs antenna for solar energy

Date:
June 19, 2013
Source:
Chalmers University of Technology
Summary:
Researchers have found an effective solution for collecting sunlight for artificial photosynthesis. By combining self-assembling DNA molecules with simple dye molecules, the researchers have created a system that resembles nature's own antenna system.

An artificial light-collecting antenna system. Binding a large number of light-absorbing molecules ("red balls") to a DNA molecule, which is then modified with a porphyrin unit (blue) will result in the creation of a self-assembling system that resembles light harvesting in natural photosynthesis.
Credit: Image courtesy of Chalmers University of Technology

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have found an effective solution for collecting sunlight for artificial photosynthesis. By combining self-assembling DNA molecules with simple dye molecules, the researchers have created a system that resembles nature's own antenna system.

Artificial photosynthesis is an exciting area of energy research. A large number of the worlds' energy problems could be resolved if it were possible to recreate the ability plants have to transform solar energy into fuel. Earth receives enough solar energy every hour to satisfy our energy needs for an entire year.

A research team at Chalmers University of Technology has made a nanotechnological breakthrough in the first step required for artificial photosynthesis. The team has demonstrated that it is possible to use self-assembling DNA molecules as scaffolding to create artificial systems that collect light. The results were recently published in the scientific Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Scaffolding in plants and algae consists of a large number of proteins that organise chlorophyll molecules to ensure effective light collection. The system is complicated and would basically be impossible to construct artificially.

"It's all over if a bond breaks," says Jonas Hannestad, PhD of physical chemistry. "If DNA is used instead to organise the light-collecting molecules, the same precision is not achieved but a dynamic self-constructing system arises."

With a system that builds itself, the researchers have begun to approach nature's method. If any of the light-collecting molecules break, it will be replaced with another one a second later. In this sense, it is a self-repairing system as opposed to if molecules had been put there by researchers with synthetic organic chemistry.

The sun's light is moved to a reaction centre in plants and algae so they can synthesise sugars and other energy-rich molecules.

"We can move energy to a reaction centre, but we have not resolved how the reactions themselves are to take place there," says Bo Albinsson, professor of physical chemistry and head of the research team. "This is actually the most difficult part of artificial photosynthesis. We have demonstrated that an antenna can easily be built. We have recreated that part of the miracle."

The Chalmers researchers are combining artificial photosynthesis with DNA nanotechnology. When constructing nano-objects that are billionths of a metre, DNA molecules have proven to function very well as building material. This is because DNA strands have the ability to attach to each other in a predictable manner. As long as the correct assembly instructions are given from the start, DNA strands in a test tube can bend around each other and basically form any structure.

"It's like a puzzle where the pieces only fit together in one specific way," says Bo Albinsson. "That is why it is possible to draw a fairly complex structure on paper and then know basically what it will look like. We subsequently use those traits to control how light collection will take place.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Chalmers University of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jakob G. Woller, Jonas K. Hannestad, Bo Albinsson. Self-Assembled Nanoscale DNA–Porphyrin Complex for Artificial Light Harvesting. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013; 135 (7): 2759 DOI: 10.1021/ja311828v

Cite This Page:

Chalmers University of Technology. "DNA constructs antenna for solar energy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130619101436.htm>.
Chalmers University of Technology. (2013, June 19). DNA constructs antenna for solar energy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130619101436.htm
Chalmers University of Technology. "DNA constructs antenna for solar energy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130619101436.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins