This research area supports fundamental research on the biological conversion of solar energy to chemically stored forms of energy. Topics of study include light harvesting, exciton transfer, charge separation, transfer of reductant to carbon dioxide, as well as the biochemistry of carbon fixation and carbon storage. Emphasized areas are those involving strong intersection between biological sciences and energy-relevant chemical sciences and physics, such as in self-assembly of nanoscale components, efficient photon capture and charge separation, predictive design of catalysts, and self-regulating/repairing systems. Capital equipment funding is provided for items such as ultrafast lasers, high-speed detectors, spectrometers, environmentally controlled chambers, high-throughput robotic systems, and computational resources.
The impact of research in this research area is to uncover the underlying structure-function relationships and to probe dynamical processes in natural photosynthetic systems to guide the development of robust artificial and bio-hybrid systems for conversion of solar energy into electricity or chemical fuels. The ultimate goal is the development of bio-hybrid systems in which the best features from nature are selectively used while the shortcomings of biology are bypassed. Achieving this goal would impact DOE’s efforts to develop solar energy as an efficient, renewable energy source.
To obtain more information about this research area, please see our Core Research Area descriptions and the proceedings of our Principal Investigators' Meetings. To better understand how this research area fits within the Department of Energy's Office of Science, please refer to the Basic Energy Science's organization chart (52KB) and budget request.
For more information about this research area, please contact Dr. Gail McLean.