MIT's Angela Belcher | Artificial Photosynthesis

MIT Belcher artificial photosynthesisGreenTracker| We have back-to-back posts on photosynthesis research. Yesterday, we introduced readers to Harvard Medical School biologist Pamela Silver, who experiments with organisms (eventually human) that could produce their own energy using photosynthesis.

The Economist writes that Angela Belcher of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her colleagues have succeeded in mimicking the first part of photosynthesis by using a genetically modified virus to help split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

During photosynthesis two “half-reactions” take place. First, sunlight is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Plants do this with a complex molecular “photosystem” that uses the energy of sunlight to break apart water molecules, liberating electrons, hydrogen ions and oxygen. Then, in the second half-reaction, the electrons and hydrogen ions combine with carbon dioxide to create energy-rich carbohydrates, such as glucose, which plants use to grow. via The Economist

It is the first half-reaction which provides the new potential for an energy source. Solar panels already achieve success in the second half-reaction, but the process lacks efficiency and remains costly.

Women Scientists

On a side note, we know not enough women are scientists in the world, and yet we consistently post research by women, when the searching is gender-neutral and focused on the topic— such as green energy.

Are women more involved in the more innovative research? Do they take on a female-centric focus that supports our own searching?  We have no idea but are fascinated that so many women pop up as heads of the research discoveries reported at AOC. We do not search for women scientists.