skip to primary navigationskip to content

Katarzyna Sokol – A step forward in efficient artificial photosynthesis

There is currently a lot of interest in the integration of photosynthetic enzymes into electrodes for solar electricity and fuel generation, to drive novel reactions and to study complex enzyme functions in solar energy conversion. The enzyme responsible for solar-driven water oxidation, a bottleneck in artificial photosynthesis, is Photosystem II (PSII), but its efficient wiring to electrodes still proves to be a challenge.

KS LabKatarzyna Sokol (Associate 2014) is the lead author on a recent study published in Energy & Environmental Science† where the best performing PSII-based electrode to date was demonstrated. The study was done at the Resiner Group at the Department of Chemistry with collaborators from Ruhr-Universität Bochum, and made the front cover of the December 2016 issue of Energy & Environmental Science.

The electrode developed by Sokol et al. achieves high photocurrents and stability in a mediator-free assembly. This is done by combining two efficient strategies to integrate the enzyme: entrapping the enzyme in an electrochemically-active polymer and the use of electrodes of 3D nanostructured morphologies. The electrode of inverse opal indium tin oxide nanoparticles is developed through colloidal templating and self-assembly methods to obtain this 3D structure. To verify the efficiency of such a system, they used protein film photoelectrochemistry, a novel analytical technique to study the unexplored electron transfer at the electrode-photocatalyst interface and to probe the function of enzymes in a photoelectrochemical cell.

 This is a step forward in the development of light-to-fuel conversion devices, outlining the basis of electrode design with a wide range of biological materials such as whole cells and enzymes, as well as synthetic catalysts. It is of interest to the fields of electrochemistry, catalysis, and solar energy conversion. The 3D structured electrodes have demonstrated to be highly versatile and may be used in applications outside of photoelectrochemistry, such as batteries and fuel cells.

Written by

Hippolyte P.A.G. Astier

Semiconductor Physics Group

Cavendish Laboratory

 † Katarzyna P. Sokol et al., ‘Rational wiring of photosystem II to hierarchical indium tin oxide electrodes using redox polymers’, Energy Environ. Sci., 2016, 9, 3698-3709

 Icon image credit: planet-e.com

RSS Feed Latest news

NanoDTC Associates Competition - Deadline 27th October

Oct 10, 2017

The NanoDTC Associates competition is and opportunity for Cambridge PhD students working in nano related areas to become affiliatedto the NanoDTC and also receive a travel grant of up to £3000. Applications accepted until Fri 27th Oct.

NanoDTC-Impulse-Maxwell Innovation Seminar Series - Prof. Ijeoma Uchegbu, Nanomerics

Oct 10, 2017

The first event in the joint NanoDTC-Impulse-Maxwell Innovation Seminar Series kicks off with a series of brilliant speakers who are at different stages in their Innovation  and Entrepreneurship journey.

Learning About Leadership in Antarctica

Aug 30, 2017

Hannah Laeverenz Schlogelhofer (c2014) writes about her experience being part of a leadership programme for creating change towards a more sustainable future

NanoDTC Translational Prize Fellow's nano-battery wins accolades

Jul 27, 2017

Jean de La Verpilliere (c2013), NanoDTC Translational Prize Fellow and Managing Director of the newly formed startup Echion Technologies has won prizes in the Royal Society of Chemistry 2017 Emerging Technologies Competition and the Kings' College Entrepreneurship Prize