Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chemists turn gold to purple – on purpose

27.01.2011
Color change confirms a new way to harvest energy from sunlight

Professor Richard Watt and his chemistry students suspected that a common protein could potentially react with sunlight and harvest its energy – similar to what chlorophyll does during photosynthesis.

The story of how they proved it sounds as colorful as the legend of the leprechaun who hid his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

They started with citric acid from oranges and mixed it with the protein. Next they dissolved gold powder into the solution. Then they put vials of the yellow-colored mixture in direct sunlight and crossed their fingers in the hope that it would turn purple.

Here’s the reason why: If it turned purple, that would signal that the gold atoms had received electrons and used the donated energy to bunch together as small, purple-colored nanoparticles. And that would mean that the protein used the sunlight to excite the citric acid and trigger a transfer of energy.

While direct sunlight did the trick in about 20 minutes, a high-powered tungsten mercury lamp worked much faster.

“We set the system up, turned on the light, and the solution turned purple,” Watt said. “We knew that we’d proved the concept.”

The beauty of this experiment lies not in its colors – unless, of course, you’re thinking of it as a potential “green” energy source that keeps the environment clean.

The BYU researchers published their experiments in the Journal of Nanoparticle Research. The final step of this project will involve connecting the protein to an electrode to channel the energy into a battery or fuel cell. The BYU chemists will partner with Jae-Woo Kim of the National Institute of Aerospace for this next stage of the work.

Professor Watt’s pedigree includes a post-doc at Princeton, a father who developed a fuel cell that runs on sugar and weed-killer and a more distant ancestor credited with inventing the first practical steam engine. That ancestor is also the Scottish engineer for whom the unit of power “watt” is named.

Co-authors on the new study include BYU graduate Jeremiah Keyes, grad student Robert Hilton and Jeff Farrer, who runs an electron microscope lab at BYU.

Follow BYU news on Twitter: @BYUnews

Joe Hadfield | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.byu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>