After decades of effort, scientists have revealed atomic-scale details of the water splitting step of photosynthesis, the chemical process that generates the air we breathe. The latest work adds to our understanding of photosynthesis and will aid the development of fully renewable alternative energy sources.
New Device Advances Commercial Viability of Solar Fuels
A research team led by Francesca Toma, a staff scientist in the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA) and Chemical Sciences Division (CSD), has developed an artificial photosynthesis device with remarkable stability and longevity as it converts sunlight and carbon dioxide into ethylene and hydrogen—two promising sources of renewable fuels. The team used electron microscopy at the Molecular Foundry and ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (APXPS) at the Advanced Light Source to reveal how the device degrades with use, then demonstrate how to mitigate those processes.
Chloro-phylling in the Answers to Big Questions
A team of scientists, including many in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division, uncovered new details about the reaction that powers photosynthesis. Understanding this reaction could lead to world-changing advances in technology, medicine, or energy––and also gives insight into how the enzyme photosystem II produces the oxygen we breathe. Their latest work was recently published in Nature Communications and two of the authors, Vittal Yachandra and Philipp Simon, spoke with Strategic Communications about that, shooting stuff with lasers, and why they chose this field of research.
New Technique Gets the Drop On Enzyme Reactions
As part of an international collaboration, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the Diamond Light Source synchrotron facility, and Oxford and Bristol Universities in England have developed a novel sample delivery system that expands the limited toolkit for performing dynamic structural biology studies of enzyme catalysis, which have so far mostly been limited to a small number of light-driven enzymes.
Biosciences Area and Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division Leadership Changes
Mary Maxon, Associate Laboratory Director (ALD) for Biosciences, has been granted a one-year leave of absence to help advance science and technology opportunities for engineering biology and the U.S. bioeconomy. Beginning August 23, Maxon will work on temporary assignment with Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, as they launch a significant effort to seed the next wave of engineering biology and bioeconomy innovation.
Paul Adams, Director of the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division, has been asked by Lab Director Mike Witherell to serve as the ALD for Biosciences over the coming year. While Adams is serving as Biosciences ALD, MBIB Deputy for Science Junko Yano will take on the role of Interim MBIB Division Director; Greg Hura has agreed to step into the role of Interim MBIB Science Deputy; and Susan Tsutakawa will be the Interim Head of the Structural Biology Department for the coming year.
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