Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

PHOTONANOTECH — Result In Brief

Project ID: 33168
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Bulgaria

Applications for photosynthetic systems

Scientists and engineers often take cues from nature. EU-funded scientists used the principles of photosynthesis in specialised molecular systems for textile processing, water purification and biomedicine.
Applications for photosynthetic systems
One of the many exciting lessons being learned from nature is how plant life can harvest energy from the Sun. Photozymes are chlorophyll-like light-harvesting molecules. They channel solar energy to other molecules trapped within their complex structures. Photocatalytic (photo-enzymatic) transformations enable the conversion of light energy to chemical energy.

Chemically, photozymes are water-soluble co-polymers, polymers made of more than one kind of monomer or unit. In this case, the co-polymer consists of water-repelling (hydrophobic) monomers and water-friendly (hydrophilic) ones. These two form a molecule-sized structure consisting of a hydrophilic surface and a hydrophobic core. Depending on the monomers used, numerous tailor-made effects are possible.

The Photonanotech project sought to develop novel photozyme-based processes for use in biomedical coatings and materials development, bone regeneration, self-cleaning textiles and solar wastewater decontamination. During the project, over 100 photozymes were synthesised and characterised regarding their photoactivity. Twenty-nine were selected for large-scale pilot testing.

Positive results regarding the use of photozymes in textiles are expected to lead to more eco-friendly products. Some photozymes showed promising levels of decontamination of water containing toxic pesticides. Scientists also developed new prosthesis and scaffold materials for bone repair showing enhanced biocompatibility and bioactivity.

Overall, Photonanotech made great progress in mimicking nature’s ability to harvest sunlight for chemical energy with demonstrated applicability to textile treatments, wastewater decontamination, and bone growth and repair.

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