Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 120, Issue 1–2, pp 59–70 | Cite as

Evolution of reaction center mimics to systems capable of generating solar fuel

  • Benjamin D. Sherman
  • Michael D. Vaughn
  • Jesse J. Bergkamp
  • Devens Gust
  • Ana L. Moore
  • Thomas A. Moore


Capturing and converting solar energy via artificial photosynthesis offers an ideal way to limit society’s dependence on fossil fuel and its myriad consequences. The development and study of molecular artificial photosynthetic reactions centers and antenna complexes and the combination of these constructs with catalysts to drive the photochemical production of a fuel helps to build the understanding needed for development of future scalable technologies. This review focuses on the study of molecular complexes, design of which is inspired by the components of natural photosynthesis, and covers research from early triad reaction centers developed by the group of Gust, Moore, and Moore to recent photoelectrochemical systems capable of using light to convert water to oxygen and hydrogen.


Artificial photosynthesis Solar energy conversion Biomimicry Sustainability 



Net primary production of photosynthesis


Human appropriation of net primary production of photosynthesis


Oxygen evolving complex


Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate


Adenosine triphosphate


Adenosine diphosphate


Inorganic phosphate
















Proton coupled electron transfer






Fluorine-doped tin oxide


Photoelectrochemical cell


2-Dicarboxyethylphosphonic acid




Artificial photosynthetic production



This work was supported by the Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under award Number DE-SC0001016. Some of the research described in this review was supported by the National Science Foundation (CHE-0352599) and U.S. Department of Energy (DE-FG02-03ER15393). M.D.V. thanks the National Science Foundation for support from the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin D. Sherman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Michael D. Vaughn
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jesse J. Bergkamp
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Devens Gust
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ana L. Moore
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Thomas A. Moore
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel ProductionArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Center for Bioenergy and PhotosynthesisArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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