ERC Consolidator Grant on Semi-Artificial Photosynthesis with Wired Enzymes ('MatEnSAP')

This ERC-funded project started in summer 2016. It aims to integrate the strengths of natural and artificial photosynthesis to explore novel pathways for efficient solar-to-chemical conversion, which are otherwise inaccessible to either biological or synthetic regimes alone. We thereby address the need for new innovations in the solar fuels field and develop a new chemical biology platform, in which biological pathways can be systematically re-wired in vitro to characterise important metabolic processes, such as bio-hydrogen production.

Our ‘semi-artificial photosynthetic’ approach will employ enzymes that have been refined by nature to handle electrons, protons and substrates with remarkable specificity, selectivity, and turn-over rates, and wire them together photoelectrochemically using state-of-the-art materials. Central to our approach will be materials design, where materials will be tailored to the dimensions and functions of the enzymes, as well as the development of photo-spectroelectrochemical techniques to deepen our understanding of the enzyme-material interface.