A paper co-authored by Professor of Chemistry Tim Elgren was recently published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry. “Photo-induced H2 production by [NiFe]-hydrogenase from T. roseopersicina covalently linked to a Ru(II) photosensitizer” was written in collaboration with scientists at Montana State University. Hydrogenases are enzymes that convert protons and electrons into hydrogen gas.
The paper describes a successful strategy for using sunlight to activate photochemistry to deliver the required electrons. A photosensitive ruthenium complex is covalently linked to the surface of the protein. Clean and efficient strategies for producing hydrogen gas remain a high priority in the search for more sustainable energy alternatives. This is an example of how enzymes might serve as functional catalysts for this purpose.