Artificial photosynthesis: when we learn to live without plants

© Photo : Julian MelchiorriДжулиан, Melchiorri introduced the first artificial biological leafArtificial photosynthesis: when we learn to live without plants© Photo : Julian Melchiorri

In the atmosphere the concentration of free oxygen is 20,95%, and carbon dioxide at 0.04%. This correlation is supported life cycles of flora and fauna. But the number of plants on our planet is rapidly decreasing, and the carbon dioxide emissions are rising. So now scientists have started developing technology that could provide humans and animals a breathable air in the future.

The main role in the process of photosynthesis is light. Of solar radiation reaching the Earth, only half has a wavelength which can «work» chlorophyll. Moreover, the absorption maxima are in the blue (about 400 nm) and red (about 700 nanometers) spectral regions.

«This contains a green pigment in leaves that captures sunlight, and the set of enzymes and other proteins uses the energy to split water molecules into oxygen, hydrogen and electrons. The protons and electrons moving along a chain of proteins that participate in the creation of energy necessary for the synthesis of organic compounds,» explains Paul Fedorov, senior researcher of the Laboratory of natural antioxidants of the Institute of living systems of the Baltic Federal University. Kant.

From the proper range of solar radiation, a large part is lost in the absorption process and internal reactions. The average for photosynthesis plants use only 1-2% of the total reaching the Earth sunlight.

While the study of artificial photosynthesis are at the stage of laboratory research. Semiconductors and live bacteria is placed in a photosynthetic biohybrid system (artificial leaf), which is exposed to sunlight. Semiconductors collect the energy, generating the electrons needed in order to place the reaction in a solution of water and carbon dioxide. The bacterium uses the electrons to convert molecules of carbon dioxide, thereby contributing to the formation of hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4), ethanol (C2H5OH). And the water at the same time, is oxidized on the surface of another semiconductor, which releases oxygen.

There is the development of artificial photosynthesis, which use living organisms (bacteria and individual cells). Such research is based on obtaining information about photosynthesis using cyanobacteria. First, they inserted the genome sequence of nucleotides that contains the instructions for protein synthesis labels. Further, living organisms are extracted and labeled and examined the resulting photosystem (bacteria that metabolize the proteins). Scientists say that this information will help to create artificial analogues of photosynthesis.