Daily Management Review

Scientists Finally Capture What Happens At A Molecular Level During Photosynthesis


Scientists solve the mystery of photosynthesis, whereby altering previous notions.

Finally, the researchers were able to document the chemical reactions’ process of photosynthesis with the help of “ultra-rapid lasers”, whereby discovering “exactly how fast they happen”. According to the finding a “key process” wherein electrons get stripped off from water and kick starts the “conversion of solar into chemical energy”, takes place even faster than it was thought till date. The author of the study, Jasper van Thor, said:
“We can now see how nature has optimized the physics of converting light energy to fuel”.
The said study could provide a big help to the scientists in improving “artificial photosynthesis” as a result of which biofuels could be produced in a more efficient manner. It was the researchers of “Imperial College London” who strove to find out about the speed of “Photosystem II enzyme reaction” that occurs during the process of photosynthesis, whereby water is split into “hydrogen and oxygen”.
Previously, the said process “was thought to be” the “slowest part of photosynthesis”, while the harvesting of light with proteins’ “antenna complex” along with the molecules of chlorophyll was considered to be “faster”. However, the recent discoveries have altered the belief. Moreover, the word “slow” or “fast” can merely be used for comparison as in actual the entire process of photosynthesis takes place within “picoseconds” which is equal to “trillionths of a second”.
In an attempt to precisely record the pace of the “Photosystem II enzyme reaction”, scientists created the “crystals of the Photosystem II enzyme” and then “zapped them with a sophisticated laser system”. With the help of “infrared spectroscopy”, the team of scientists measured the movements of electrons “across tiny parts of the system”. While, van Thor adds:
“We can now show that what I was lectured as an undergraduate in the 1990s is no longer supported”.
Additionally, the team created a “movie of key parts of the photosynthesis process”, which has helped the scientists to understand what goes on in molecular level during that phase, as van Thor informed:
“Can we mimic it or tune it to make artificial photosynthesis more efficient? These questions, and many others, can now be explored”.