From the moment scientists figured out the principles of photosynthesis, they are not left with disappointment - this phenomenon in its pure form cannot be used with benefit in energy. Evolution set a goal for plants and algae to simply survive, so over the millennia, a biomechanism has developed with a depressingly low efficiency - only 1-2%. However, scientists have set themselves a creative task - let's make it a man-made analogue, but much more effective?
This goal was achieved - but at a high cost, and the resulting photocatalytic water splitting technology was not widely used. Today, scientists' thought returns to what nature has created a long time ago - the hydrogenase enzyme. It does exactly what the creators of artificial photosynthesis wanted so much - it splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. However, in the course of evolution, this enzyme was "turned off" as unnecessary, it has long ceased to participate in photosynthesis and was not considered as such. Until recently.
A group of researchers led by Katarzyna Sokol from St. John's College, Cambridge, has assembled an experimental setup. They took photosystem II, the first protein complex in light-dependent oxygen photosynthesis reactions, and added hydrogenase to it. The result is an artificial power plant made from natural ingredients that generates energy using sunlight.
The technology is still purely experimental, it reflects only the very fact that now scientists can selectively trigger biochemical processes and achieve the proper reaction using natural components - but at the same time realizing mechanisms that do not exist in nature. Nobody knows exactly how to design a solar cell based on artificial photosynthesis. For this, much remains to be studied and verified - but the very fact of a breakthrough is obvious.