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Artificial photosynthesis part 1: Understanding the structure of the oxygen-evolving complex by ritch

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· @ritch ·
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Artificial photosynthesis part 1: Understanding the structure of the oxygen-evolving complex
 Dear Steemians,
 
 <div class="text-justify"> 
  
Have you ever wondered how the oxygen (O<sub>2</sub>) we breathe is produced? Probably the first thing that comes to mind is that this gas is generated during the photosynthesis process through plants, algae and cyanobacteria. The answer is correct, but how does O<sub>2</sub> actually occur at the atomic level in plants? To answer this question we have to look into the fundamentals of natural photosynthesis. 

We can imagine the plants leaves, which contain organelles such as the chloroplast. We will not go into the details of all the biochemical processes that occur in this phenomenon, instead, we will focus on where molecular oxygen is specifically produced (O<sub>2</sub>). Returning to the topic, the chloroplast has in its interior flattened sacs called thylakoids, and it is in the membrane of the thylakoids where the phenomenon of photosynthesis occurs (see Figure 1) [1].
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![tyza954u60.png](https://img.esteem.ws/tyza954u60.png)

**Figure 1**. Diagram of the thylakoidal membrane where natural photosynthesis takes place. Where PSI and PSII (Photosystems I and II), PQ= Plastoquinone, and PC=Plastocyanine. **Source**: Image designed by @ritch.
<center>

  <div class="text-justify"> 
    
If we go even deeper according to the science of materials, in the thylakoidal membrane we find the Photosystem II (PSII) that harnesses sunlight and transfers this energy to the oxygen evolving complex (OEC), see Figure 2. The OEC is constituted by the following elements (Mn<sub>4</sub>CaO<sub>5</sub>) and has the ability to dissociate water molecules into their elements and release the O<sub>2</sub> that we breathe [2].
  </div> 

</center>
![oec.png](https://cdn.steemitimages.com/DQme7GhX2Bw1Smn8BsKbTUBwGxtkbV9W488xXDwQWcqPiUj/oec.png)

**Figure 2**. Molecular structure of the oxygen generating complex. [**Source**](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Manganese_cluster_in_the_oxygen-evolving_complex.svg)
<center>
  <div class="text-justify"> 
    
   Natural photosynthesis is represented by the equation: 6 H<sub>2</sub>O + 6 CO<sub>2</sub> → C<sub>6</sub>H<sub>12</sub>O<sub>6</sub> (glucose) + 6 O<sub>2</sub>. This process is not as simple as it seems. Because it requires multiple energy transfer in several steps, as well as oxidation of water (Eq. 1) in the light phase and reduction of carbon dioxide in the dark phase. These naturally occurring chemical reactions are vital to the preservation of the planet and life. Plants provide us with the oxygen we breathe and help to regulate the concentrations of CO <sub>2</sub> in the environment.
    </div> 
  
</center>
2 H<sub>2</sub>O  →  O<sub>2</sub> + 4 H<sup>+</sup> + 4 <i>e</i><sup>−</sup>			(eq. 1)
<center>
  
<div class="text-justify"> 
  
The research and development of phenomena inspired by Nature is important to achieve the sustainability of the planet. Among these, artificial photosynthesis is of interest in the scientific and technological fields, because through this strategy not only could be reduced CO<sub>2</sub> emissions but it could be viable to produce value-added fuels such as methane and methanol from carbon dioxide.

Although important advances have been made in the synthesis of molecular structures similar to that of the oxygen generating complex and in the understanding of its properties, it has not been possible to obtain an identical oxygen evolving complex structure. In the next post I will share with you the latest scientific advances on the synthetic structures (manufactured in the laboratory) that have been proposed to mimic the OEC complex in order to design efficient artificial photosynthesis devices.
  
If you liked this article, support it with your vote and share it.

Kind regards!
  
@ritch

  <br>
**References**

[1] Nelson L.D., Cox M.M. (2008). Principles of biochemistry. W. H. Freeman and Company 5th edition, 742-762.

2] J. Yano, J. Kern, K. Sauer, M.J. Latimer, Y. Pushkar, J. Biesiadka, B. Loll, W. Saenger, J. Messinger, A. Zouni, V.K. Yachandra. Where Water Is Oxidized to Dioxygen: Structure of the Photosynthetic Mn<sub>4</sub>Ca Cluster. Science, 314:821-825, 2006.
</div> 


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@minnowsupport ·
<p>Congratulations!  This post has been upvoted from the communal account, @minnowsupport, by ritch from the Minnow Support Project. It's a witness project run by aggroed, ausbitbank, teamsteem, someguy123, neoxian, followbtcnews, and netuoso. The goal is to help Steemit grow by supporting Minnows.  Please find us at the <a href="https://discord.gg/HYj4yvw"> Peace, Abundance, and Liberty Network (PALnet) Discord Channel</a>.  It's a completely public and open space to all members of the Steemit community who voluntarily choose to be there.</p> <p>If you would like to delegate to the Minnow Support Project you can do so by clicking on the following links: <a href="https://v2.steemconnect.com/sign/delegateVestingShares?delegator=&amp;delegatee=minnowsupport&amp;vesting_shares=102530.639667%20VESTS">50SP</a>, <a href="https://v2.steemconnect.com/sign/delegateVestingShares?delegator=&amp;delegatee=minnowsupport&amp;vesting_shares=205303.639667%20VESTS">100SP</a>, <a href="https://v2.steemconnect.com/sign/delegateVestingShares?delegator=&amp;delegatee=minnowsupport&amp;vesting_shares=514303.639667%20VESTS">250SP</a>, <a href="https://v2.steemconnect.com/sign/delegateVestingShares?delegator=&amp;delegatee=minnowsupport&amp;vesting_shares=1025303.639667%20VESTS">500SP</a>, <a href="https://v2.steemconnect.com/sign/delegateVestingShares?delegator=&amp;delegatee=minnowsupport&amp;vesting_shares=2053030.639667%20VESTS">1000SP</a>, <a href="https://v2.steemconnect.com/sign/delegateVestingShares?delegator=&amp;delegatee=minnowsupport&amp;vesting_shares=10253030.639667%20VESTS">5000SP</a>. <br><strong>Be sure to leave at least 50SP undelegated on your account.</strong></p>
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@ritch ·
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<div class='text-justify'> <div class='pull-left'> <center> <br /> <img width='200' src='https://res.cloudinary.com/drrz8xekm/image/upload/v1553698283/weenlqbrqvvczjy6dayw.jpg'> </center>  <br/> </div> 

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