Indexed on: 13 Apr '10Published on: 13 Apr '10Published in: Nature Nanotechnology
Over several billion years, cyanobacteria and plants have evolved highly organized photosynthetic systems to shuttle both electronic and chemical species for the efficient oxidation of water. In a similar manner to reaction centres in natural photosystems, molecular and metal oxide catalysts have been used to photochemically oxidize water. However, the various approaches involving the molecular design of ligands, surface modification and immobilization still have limitations in terms of catalytic efficiency and sustainability. Here, we demonstrate a biologically templated nanostructure for visible light-driven water oxidation that uses a genetically engineered M13 virus scaffold to mediate the co-assembly of zinc porphyrins (photosensitizer) and iridium oxide hydrosol clusters (catalyst). Porous polymer microgels are used as an immobilization matrix to improve the structural durability of the assembled nanostructures and to allow the materials to be recycled. Our results suggest that the biotemplated nanoscale assembly of functional components is a promising route to significantly improved photocatalytic water-splitting systems.