Nature-Driven Photochemistry for Catalytic Solar Hydrogen Production: A Photosystem I–Transition Metal Catalyst Hybrid

Solar energy conversion of water into the environmentally clean fuel hydrogen offers one of the best long-term solutions for meeting future energy demands. Nature provides highly evolved, finely tuned molecular machinery for solar energy conversion that exquisitely manages photon capture and conversion processes to drive oxygenic water-splitting and carbon fixation. Herein, we use one of Nature’s specialized energy-converters, the Photosystem I (PSI) protein, to drive hydrogen production from a synthetic molecular catalyst comprised of inexpensive, earth-abundant materials. PSI and a cobaloxime catalyst self-assemble, and the resultant complex rapidly produces hydrogen in aqueous solution upon exposure to visible light. This work establishes a strategy for enhancing photosynthetic efficiency for solar fuel production by augmenting natural photosynthetic systems with synthetically tunable abiotic catalysts.