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Biohybrids for Solar Chemicals and Fuels: Whole-Cell Photocatalysis by Non-Photosynthetic Organisms

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Lars Jeuken
    Dr K Critchley
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Solar energy is our most abundant energy source and has enormous potential as a clean and economical energy supply. This PhD project will tap into this under-utilised source of power by engineering direct exchange of electrons between bacterial cells and inorganic photocatalysts for the biophotocatalytic production of solar chemicals such as fuels.

We have previously shown that the extracellular respiratory machinery of the bacterium, Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 (MR-1), can support direct exchange of solar energy (from synthetic photosensitisers) by transferring electrons across the bacterial outer membrane. In this project, you will use a novel synthetic biology approach to couple photocatalysts directly to this extracellular respiratory machinery. This will create biohybrid MR-1 assemblies that use intracellular redox transformations in vivo (metabolism) to sustain light-driven extracellular catalysis.

You will learn skills in expression, purification, reconstitution and functional characterization of (membrane) proteins and the characterization of photosensitisers, including nanoparticles such as quantum dots. Advanced biophysical characterisation techniques including life-time fluorescent spectroscopy, confocal microscopy, bioelectrochemistry and cryo-TEM will also be used. A range of biophysical techniques related to surface modification and bio-conjugation will be used the control the interaction between photosensitisers and respiratory proteins.

Funding Notes

White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology
4 year fully-funded programme of integrated research and skills training, starting Oct 2019:
• Research Council Stipend
• UK/EU Tuition Fees
• Conference allowance
• Research Costs

At least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent. We welcome students with backgrounds in biological, chemical or physical sciences, or mathematical backgrounds with an interest in biological questions.
EU candidates require 3 years of UK residency in order to receive full studentship

Not all projects advertised will be funded; the DTP will appoint a limited number of candidates via a competitive process.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Leeds in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 60.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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