Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanobionics Supercharge Photosynthesis

22.05.2015

Carbon nanotubes and inorganic nanoparticles enhance photosynthetic activity and stability

A new process has been developed for spontaneously incorporating and assembling carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and oxygen scavenging nanoparticles into chloroplasts, the part of plant cells that conduct photosynthesis – converting light into energy.


Image courtesy of Michael Strano

Nanobionic Leaf: DNA-coated carbon nanotubes (top) incorporated inside chloroplasts in the leaves of living plants (middle) boost plant photosynthesis. Leaves infiltrated with carbon nanotubes (orange) are imaged with a single particle microscope that monitors their near infrared fluorescence (bottom).

Incorporation of CNTs enhanced electron flow associated with photosynthesis by 49% in extracted chloroplasts and by 30% in leaves of living plants, and incorporation of cerium oxide nanoparticles (nanoceria) into extracted chloroplasts significantly reduced concentrations of superoxide, a compound that is toxic to plants.

The Impact

Chloroplasts alone absorb light only from the visible portion of the solar spectrum, allowing access to only about 50% of the incident solar energy radiation, and less than 10% of full sunlight saturates the capacity of the photosynthetic apparatus.

This nano-bio approach is believed to increase the breadth of the solar spectrum that is used to make energy and is expected to contribute to the development of biomimetic materials with enhanced photosynthetic activity and improved stability towards oxidative degradation.

Summary

A novel nanobionic approach has been developed that imparts higher photosynthetic activity to plant leaves and extracted plant chloroplasts, the biological organelles that convert captured carbon dioxide into solar energy. While chloroplasts host all of the biochemical machinery needed for photosynthesis, little is known about how to engineer chloroplasts extracted from plants for long-term, stable solar energy harnessing.

Now, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that highly charged single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) coated with DNA and chitosan (a biomolecule derived from shrimp and other crustacean shells) are able to spontaneously penetrate into chloroplasts. This new lipid exchange envelope penetration (LEEP) process for incorporating the nanostructures involves wrapping CNTs or nanoparticles with highly charged DNA or polymer molecules, enabling them to penetrate into the fatty, hydrophobic membranes that surround chloroplasts.

Incorporation of CNTs into chloroplasts extracted from plants enhanced choloroplast’s photosynthetic activity by 49% compared to the control. When these nanocomposites were incorporated into leaf chloroplasts of living plants, the electron flow associated with photosynthesis was enhanced by 30%. These results are consistent with the idea that semiconducting carbon nanotubes are able to expand the light capture by plant materials to other parts of the solar spectrum such as the green, near infrared and ultraviolet.

Another major limitation in the use of extracted chloroplasts for solar energy applications is that they easily break down due to light- and oxygen-induced damage to the photosynthetic proteins.

When potent oxygen radical scavengers such as cerium oxide nanoparticles (nanoceria) were combined with a highly charged polymer (polyacrylic acid) and incorporated into extracted chloroplasts using the LEEP process, damage to the chloroplasts from superoxides and other reactive oxygen species was dramatically reduced.

This nanobionics approach is expected to contribute to the development of biomimetic materials for light-harvesting and solar energy conversion, as well as biochemical detection with regenerative properties and enhanced efficiency.

Funding

Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences program. Additional fellowship support for co-authors was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (J.P.G. and M.P.L), NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (N.F.R.), and Turkey funding sources (DPU-ILTEM and TUBITAK) (F.S).

Publications

J.P. Giraldo, M.P. Landry, S.M. Faltermeier, T.P. McNicholas, M.N. Iverson, A.A. Boghossian, N.F. Reuel, A.J. Hilmer, F. Sen, J. Brew, M.S. Strano, “Plant nanobionics approach to augment photosynthesis and biochemical sensing.” Nature Materials, 13, 400–408, 2014 [DOI: 10.1038/nmat3890].

Contact Information
Kristin Manke
kristin.manke@science.doe.gov

Kristin Manke | newswise
Further information:
http://www.science.doe.gov

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters
13.07.2018 | Brown University

nachricht 3D-Printing: Support structures to prevent vibrations in post-processing of thin-walled parts
12.07.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnologie IPT

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>