PerspectiveArtificial Photosynthesis

More efficient together

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Science  13 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6262, pp. 738-739
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad6452

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The solar-to-biomass conversion efficiency of natural photosynthesis is between 2.9 and 4.3% for most crops (1, 2). Improving the efficiency of photosynthesis could help increase the appeal of biologically derived fuels and chemicals in comparison with traditional petrochemical processes. One approach to make photosynthesis more efficient is to build hybrid systems that combine inorganic and microbial components to produce specific chemicals. Such hybrid bioinorganic systems lead to improved efficiency and specificity and do not require processed vegetable biomass. They thus prevent harmful competition between biotechnology and the food industry and avoid the environmental perturbation caused by intensive agriculture (3).