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Dr Erwin Reisner


Title: "Artificial Photosynthesis with Photosynthetic Proteins Integrated in a Semiconductor Device" This BBSRC PhD project addresses the challenge of integrating highly selective and efficient enzymes in semiconductors to catalyse the photochemical conversion of solar energy, water and the greenhouse carbon dioxide into renewable fuels. A novel device will be developed to produce fuels from sunlight by coupling photoactive synthetic materials with the best catalysts available for fuel generation – enzymes. These enzymes carry out fuel formation at far higher rates than any available synthetic catalyst. Specifically, microbial proton and carbon dioxide reducing enzymes for the production of hydrogen (with an enzyme known as hydrogenase) and formic acid (with formate dehydrogenase; formic acid is an attractive source for hydrogen) immobilised on semiconductors will be employed. Importantly, a fuel forming reductive process can only operate if electrons are provided from an oxidative process at the electron donor side. The light-driven water oxidising enzyme, photosystem II will be wired to a hydrogenase and formate dehydrogenase and extract electrons from water and evolve O2 to close the redox cycle. Thus, photosystem II will be coupled via an artificial electric circuitry to high performance CO2 and proton reducing enzymes in a sophisticated bioelectronic system. This proposal will develop the unexplored area of solar energy conversion with enzymes on semiconductor electrodes and find new ways to produce sustainable fuels from the natural resources sunlight, CO2 and water. This BBSRC project will be performed in a cross-disciplinary consortium in Cambridge involving the Departments of Chemistry (Dr Reisner), Biochemistry (Prof Chris Howe) and the MRC (MBU, Dr. Judy Hirst).


Dr Erwin Reisner

Dr Erwin Reisner
Department of Chemistry
Office Phone: 01223 336323

Second supervisors:

Chris Howe (Biochemistry) and Dr Judy Hirst (MRC MBU)