Using non-natural photosynthetic protein combinations to improve energy capture

FUNDING: 9 weeks (full time, 37 hrs per week, £11.03 per hour, £530 consumables)
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LOCATION: Sheffield, UK

Dr. Katherine Richardson, Biosciences, Sheffield

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Photosynthesis provides an array of antenna and reaction centre proteins which are capable of absorbing different wavelengths of light. The nanoscale organisation of these networks control energy transport and ultimately carbon fixation. By adding non-native proteins, widening the spectral absorption range, it may be possible to enhance energy capture. Mimicking and controlling these artificial systems may reveal how to increase our food security and generate biofuel, for example in the harvesting, converting, and storing of solar (green) energy. The student will form non-native networks using synthetic lipids bilayers, purifying membrane antenna and reaction centres from Spinach and photosynthetic bacteria. They will use biophysical techniques to characterise the systems including fluorescence lifetime imaging. In addition to learning these methods they will be supported to perform quantitative data analysis, becoming independent in their experiments and time management. The student will be an integrated member of the lab, with the opportunity to gain additional skills in reviewing scientific papers, discussing results, and presenting their own research. Students will be expected to present their findings orally at a research day in York in September 2023.