Organic light sensors inspired by photosynthesis and built using proteins could be a step towards a new way of making energy from light.
While visible light itself is a form of energy - in the form of electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength of around 400-700 nm - scientists have spent many years investigating how plants are able to convert this into chemical energy with which to grow.
Ultimately, it is this process that sustains almost all life on Earth, as even carnivores feed on herbivores whose energy originally comes from plants.
A team from the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been working on robust light sensors, built using proteins and capable of self-assembly and self-repair.
They have found that light-harvesting complex II proteins can give energy-producing capabilities to synthetic polymers, allowing sunlight to be converted into hydrogen which might be used as fuel in the future.
Posted by Simon Jones