Mimicking Photosynthesis

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  07 Apr 1989:
Vol. 244, Issue 4900, pp. 35-41
DOI: 10.1126/science.244.4900.35


Although the concept of an artificial photosynthetic reaction center that mimics natural electron-and energy-transfer processes is an old one, in recent years major advances have occurred. In this review, some relatively simple molecular dyads that mimic certain aspects of photosynthetic electron transfer and singlet or triplet energy transfer are described. Dyads of this type have proven to be extremely useful for elucidating basic photochemical principles. In addition, their limitations, particularly in the area of temporal stabilization of electronic charge separation, have inspired the development of much more complex multicomponent molecular devices. The use of the basic principles of photoinitiated electron transfer to engineer desirable properties into the more complex species is exemplified. The multiple electrontransfer pathways available with these molecules make it possible to fine-tune the systems in ways that are impossible with simpler molecules. The study of these devices not only contributes to our understanding of natural photosynthesis, but also aids in the design of artificial solar energy harvesting systems and provides an entry into the nascent field of molecular electronics.