Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Using DNA templates to harness the sun's energy

25.04.2019

As the world struggles to meet the increasing demand for energy, coupled with the rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from deforestation and the use of fossil fuels, photosynthesis in nature simply cannot keep up with the carbon cycle. But what if we could help the natural carbon cycle by learning from photosynthesis to generate our own sources of energy that didn't generate CO2? Artificial photosynthesis does just that, it harnesses the sun's energy to generate fuel in ways that minimize CO2 production.

In a recent paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), a team of researchers led by Hao Yan, Yan Liu and Neal Woodbury of the School of Molecular Sciences and Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics at Arizona State University report significant progress in optimizing systems that mimic the first stage of photosynthesis, capturing and harnessing light energy from the sun.


Double-stranded DNA as a template to guide self-assembly of cyanine dye forming strongly-coupled dye aggregates. These DNA-templated dye aggregates serve as "exciton wires" to facilitate directional, efficient energy transfer over distances up to 32 nm.

Credit: Neal Woodbury and Hao Yan

Recalling what we learned in biology class, the first step in photosynthesis in a plant leaf is capture of light energy by chlorophyll molecules. The next step is efficiently transferring that light energy to the part of the photosynthetic reaction center where the light-powered chemistry takes place.

This process, called energy transfer, occurs efficiently in natural photosynthesis in the antenna complex. Like the antenna of a radio or a television, the job of the photosynthetic antenna complex is to gather the absorbed light energy and funnel it to the right place. How can we build our own "energy transfer antenna complexes", i.e., artificial structures that absorb light energy and transfer it over distance to where it can be used?

"Photosynthesis has mastered the art of collecting light energy and moving it over substantial distances to the right place for light-driven chemistry to take place. The problem with the natural complexes is that they are hard to reproduce from a design perspective; we can use them as they are, but we want to create systems that serve our own purposes," said Woodbury.

"By using some of the same tricks as Nature, but in the context of a DNA structure that we can design precisely, we overcome this limitation, and enable the creation of light harvesting systems that efficiently transfer the energy of light were we want it."

Yan's lab has developed a way to use DNA to self-assemble structures that can serve as templates for assembling molecular complexes with almost unlimited control over size, shape and function. Using DNA architectures as a template, the researchers were able to aggregate dye molecules in structures that captured and transferred energy over tens of nanometers with an efficiency loss of <1% per nanometer.

In this way the dye aggregates mimic the function of the chlorophyll-based antenna complex in natural photosynthesis by efficiently transferring light energy over long distances from the place where it is absorbed and the place where it will be used.

To further study biomimetic light harvesting complexes based on self- assembled dye-DNA nanostructures, Yan, Woodbury and Lin have received a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE). In previous DOE-funded work, Yan and his team demonstrated the utility of DNA to serve as a programmable template for aggregating dyes.

To build upon these findings, they will use the photonic principles that underlie natural light harvesting complexes to construct programmable structures based on DNA self-assembly, which provides the flexible platform necessary for the design and development of complex molecular photonic systems.

"It is great to see DNA can be programmed as a scaffolding template to mimic Nature's light harvesting antennae to transfer energy over this long distance," said Yan. "This is a great demonstration of research outcome from a highly interdisciplinary team."

The potential outcomes of this research could reveal new ways of capturing energy and transferring it over longer distances without net loss. In turn, the impact from this research could lead the way designing more efficient energy conversion systems that will reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

"I was delighted to participate in this research and to be able to build on some long term work extended back to some very fruitful collaborations with scientists and engineers at Eastman Kodak and the University of Rochester," said David G. Whitten of the University of New Mexico, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. "This research included using their cyanines to form aggregated assemblies where long range energy transfer between a donor cyanine aggregate and an acceptor occurs."

###

The work reported in JACS was performed by ASU students Xu Zhou and Sarthak Mandal, now of the National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli, India, and Su Lin of the Center for Innovations in Medicine at the Biodesign Institute, and Whitten's student Jianzhong Yang in collaboration with along with Yan and Woodbury.

DOE's Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

Media Contact

Kimberley Baptista
kim.baptista@asu.edu
480-727-0718

 @ASU

http://asunews.asu.edu/ 

Kimberley Baptista | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://asunow.asu.edu/20190422-using-dna-templates-harness-sun-energy
http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jacs.9b01548

Further reports about: DNA DNA templates Photosynthesis energy transfer light energy photosynthetic

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Dissolving protein traffic jam at the entrance of mitochondria
23.05.2019 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Producing tissue and organs through lithography
23.05.2019 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

Im Focus: A step towards probabilistic computing

Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future

When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...

Im Focus: Recording embryonic development

Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells

The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Producing tissue and organs through lithography

23.05.2019 | Life Sciences

Summit charts a course to uncover the origins of genetic diseases

22.05.2019 | Life Sciences

New study finds distinct microbes living next to corals

22.05.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>