Photosynthesis is the fundamental biological process by which solar energy is converted into fuel in four basic steps: light harvesting, charge separation, water splitting and fuel generation. At the heart of Photosynthesis, the reaction center pigment-protein complexes perform charge separation with near unity quantum efficiency despite their highly disordered energy landscape; they realise the first solar-energy conversion step in Photosynthesis by transforming sunlight to electrochemical energy. To achieve this amazing feat, the reaction centers exploit The Quantum Design Principles of Photosynthesis, complementary and interrelated solutions to ensure ultrafast forward and irreversible transfer of energy and electrons within a fluctuating environment.
During my talk I will present a conceptual view of these Principles and focus on how my group at ICIQ is putting all this knowledge into action with the aim to Design and Construct Bio-Inspired Chromophore-Protein Assemblies able to transfer energy and electrons with high efficiency and in the right direction. Ultimately, and in collaboration with other research groups at the institute, we will couple our Assemblies to Catalysts with the final goal of achieving cost-effective solar-energy conversion to fuel.