The researchers describe their work in a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and posted on the journal’s Web site.
Scientists have long been puzzled by nature’s ability to use cheap and plentiful building blocks – iron, nickel and sulfur – to achieve the catalytic performance seen in rare and expensive metals. In particular, two enzymes – iron-iron hydrogenase and nickel-iron hydrogenase – function as hydrogen processors, much like platinum.
“Nature relies on a very elaborate architecture to support its own ‘hydrogen economy,’ ” said Thomas B. Rauchfuss, a professor of chemistry and corresponding author of the paper. “We cracked that design by generating mock-ups of the catalytic site to include the substrate hydrogen atom.”
The researchers’ model of the nickel-iron complex is the first to include a bridging hydride ligand, an essential component of the catalyst.
“By better understanding the mechanism in the nickel-iron hydrogenase active site, we are learning how to develop new kinds of synthetic catalysts that may be useful in other applications,” said graduate student Bryan E. Barton, lead author of the paper.
“The study of hydrogenases offers plenty of potential glamour – such as the hydrogen economy, green energy and bio-fuel cells – but the lasting breakthroughs result from manipulable mechanistic models like ours,” said graduate student and co-author Matthew Whaley. “By building a model that contains a hydride ligand, we have proven that the behavior of these natural catalysts can be understood and optimized.”
University of Illinois crystallographer Danielle L. Gray also is a co-author of the paper.
The work was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.Editor’s note: To reach Thomas Rauchfuss, call 217-333-7355; e-mail:
James E. Kloeppel | Newswise Science News
How molecules teeter in a laser field
18.01.2019 | Forschungsverbund Berlin
Discovery of enhanced bone growth could lead to new treatments for osteoporosis
18.01.2019 | University of California - Los Angeles
The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research
Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI
The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...
World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles
The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
16.01.2019 | Event News
14.01.2019 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Event News
18.01.2019 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2019 | Life Sciences
18.01.2019 | Health and Medicine