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Storing energy

Membrane-bound hydrogenase induces a pH gradient at a membrane-electrode interface

Oeiras, 11.03.2015

Through photosynthesis and respiration, living organisms are able to store light and chemical energy in the form of an electrochemical gradient created across a membrane. Researchers from the Bacterial Energy Metabolism Lab, together with a group from the Instituto de Catalysis e Petroleoquimica (CSIC) in Madrid, were able to mimic this ability by immobilizing a bacterial hydrogenase (an enzyme able to cleave molecular hydrogen) between a membrane and a gold electrode. The work is published in Angewandte Chemie.

The system developed by the Portuguese/Spanish team is a good example of bionanoelectronics, a young discipline that resorts to biology, electrochemistry, and nanotechnology to combine biological molecules or cells with nanomaterials for use in electronic components. Bionanoelectronics brings promising solutions to fields such as medicine, analytical chemistry, alternative energies, or new materials development.

In their work, researchers show how H2 consumption by the membrane-bound hydrogenase on a modified gold electrode generates a proton gradient at the interface between the electrode and the membrane and how this gradient can be controlled and monitored electrochemically.

The method for monitoring and controlling the membrane potential in bioelectronic devices could be used to store energy from H2 for several applications, such as artificial ATP production, drug testing in a biomimetic environment, development of new biosensors, as well as for fundamental studies of cellular metabolism.

Original article

Angewandte Chemie (2015) DOI: 10.1002/anie.201411182

A Proton Gradient Across a Gold Supported Biomimetic Membrane Induced by Electro-Enzymatic H2 Oxidation

Oscar Gutiérrez-Sanz, Cristina Tapia, Marta C Marques, Sonia Zacarias, Marisela Vélez, Inês A C Pereira, Antonio L De Lacey

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