A biohybrid strategy for enabling photoredox catalysis with low-energy light

Paul T. Cesana, Beryl X. Li, Samuel G. Shepard, Stephen I. Ting, Stephanie M. Hart, Courtney M. Olson, Jesus I. Martinez Alvarado, Minjung Son, Talia J. Steiman, Felix N. Castellano, Abigail G. Doyle, David W.C. MacMillan, Gabriela S. Schlau-Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Natural systems drive the high-energy reactions of photosynthesis with efficient and broadband energy capture. Transition-metal photocatalysts similarly convert light into chemical reactivity, and yet suffer from light-limited operation and require blue-to-UV excitation. In photosynthesis, both light capture and reactivity have been optimized by separation into distinct sites. Inspired by this modular architecture, we synthesized a biohybrid photocatalyst by covalent attachment of the photosynthetic light-harvesting protein R-phycoerythrin (RPE) to the transition-metal photocatalyst tris(2,2′-bipyridine)ruthenium(II) ([Ru(bpy)3]2+). Spectroscopic investigation found that absorbed photoenergy was efficiently funneled from RPE to [Ru(bpy)3]2+. The utility of the biohybrid photocatalyst was demonstrated via an increase in yields for a thiol-ene coupling reaction and a cysteinyl-desulfurization reaction, including recovered reactivity at red wavelengths where [Ru(bpy)3]2+ alone does not absorb.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-185
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 13 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Materials Chemistry


  • SDG12: Responsible consumption and production
  • SDG7: Affordable and clean energy
  • biohybrid
  • energy transfer
  • photoredox catalysis
  • photosynthetic light harvesting


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