This research supports basic research on the capture of solar energy and its conversion to and storage as chemical energy in plants, algae, and photosynthetic prokaryotes. Topics of study in natural photosynthesis 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 include 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.
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 (132KB) and budget request.
For more information about this research area, please contact Dr. Stephen Herbert.