Plant Scientists Participate in DOE Energy Frontier Research Center

Stanford, CAThe Carnegie Institution’s Department of Plant Biology is a major participant in a newly-funded Department of Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) at Stanford University. The new EFRC, called the Center on Nanostructuring for Efficient Energy Conversion, will conduct basic research on developing new materials and technologies for meeting energy needs while reducing emission of greenhouse gases.

A major initiative of the center will build on innovative research in a collaboration between Fritz Prinz and Arthur Grossman’s laboratory to generate electricity directly from photosynthesis and to use nanoelectrodes to probe photosynthesis in single algal cells.  Prinz, Grossman and colleagues have already made advances in developing electrodes and algal platforms to extract energy from the photosynthetic apparatus. Ultimately, the research could yield a novel and highly efficient method for generating electricity from solar energy.

“While the work is still really in its infancy, it is critical for our energy future to develop highly efficient methods to extract energy directly from the photosynthetic system, before much of the energy is lost in downstream electron transfer processes,” says Grossman.

The center, one of 46 centers selected from 260 applications, will receive $20 million in funding over five years.