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Jan 3, 2020

Switching tracks: Reversing electrons’ course through nature’s solar cells

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

Might interest some.


Think of a train coming down the tracks to a switch point where it could go either to the right or the left—and it always goes to the right.

Photosynthetic organisms have a similar switch point. After sunlight is absorbed, energy transfers rapidly to a protein called the reaction center. From this point, the electrons could move either to an A-branch (or “right-track”) set of molecules, or to a B-branch (“left-track”) set of identical molecules.

New research from Washington University in St. Louis and Argonne National Laboratory coaxes electrons down the track that they typically don’t travel—advancing understanding of the earliest light-driven events of photosynthesis. The findings were published Dec. 31 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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