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Energy Transitions Research at the University of Cambridge

Monday, 29 March, 2021 - 15:30 to 16:15
Event location: 

Speakers: Dr Paolo Bombelli (Department of Biochemistry)

Join us on our YouTube channel to watch this talk live and take part in a Q&A session with the speaker:

The talk will be followed by a Q&A session with Dr Paolo Bombelli and Professor Christopher Howe.


Plants and other photosynthetic organisms need water and light to grow. Water keeps the plants in shape, is the medium for transporting nutrients and, perhaps surprisingly, provides a source of electrons on which photosynthesis is based. Light is the primary source of energy for plants, and they use it to extract electrons from water in a process named ‘photo-lysis’. The extracted electrons pass as tiny electric currents through a chain of proteins and are ultimately used to reduce carbon dioxide to make sugars.

The foundations of our understanding of the flow of electrons in photosynthetic cells were laid in Cambridge sixty years ago. This has opened the door to many exciting applications, including the possibility of direct harvesting of electricity from plants and photosynthetic microorganisms to supply, almost literally, ‘green’ energy.

In this talk, Dr Paolo Bombelli from the Department of Biochemistry will show how plants use light to remove electrons from water, pass the electrons through proteins, and then use the electrons to turn carbon dioxide and water into sugars. Paolo will also demonstrate how our understanding of photosynthesis can open up many useful, and green, applications.


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Event details available here.

Part of the Cambridge Festival 2021.