Energy Converting Biomaterials

In nature, metalloenzymes are able to carry out remarkable chemical transformations with an unmatched efficiency. Driven by a desire to use nature as an inspiration for rational catalysis design, we want to understand how the metalloenzyme, in particular, the metal “active site” changes before, during and after the chemical reaction.

Highlighted topics:

  • Studies of heterometallic catalysts: many key reactions in small molecule activation utilize heterometallic active sites. The energy range of PINK will provide a high intensity beam to probe for instance Mn and Ca in photosynthetic water oxidation, V and Fe in biological N2 reduction, etc.
  • Activation of small molecules by metalloenzymes
  • The Haber-Bosch process uses complex Fe surfaces to enable conversion of atmospheric N2 to NH3. A more efficient catalyst may reduce not only energy costs, but also greenhouse gases emission. Although for the past 100 years the ammonia production process has been essentially unchanged there are still many unknowns: mechanism of N-N bond cleavage, nature of the surface nitrides that are formed and oxidation state of the “active” iron.