Hang Chen and Chern Chuang (Chemistry) are decoding the secrets of efficient photosynthesis

May 23, 2013

Purple bacteria are among Earth’s oldest organisms, and among its most efficient in turning sunlight into usable chemical energy. Now, a key to their light-harvesting prowess has been explained through a detailed structural analysis by scientists at MIT.

A ring-shaped molecule with an unusual ninefold symmetry is critical, the researchers found. The circular symmetry accounts for its efficiency in converting sunlight, and for its mechanical durability and strength. The new analysis, carried out by professors of chemistry Jianshu Cao and the late Robert Silbey, postdoc Liam Cleary, and graduate students Hang Chen and Chern Chuang, has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read the rest of the article on MIT Newsphoto courtesy of Jianshu Cao

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