DOE awards Cornell researchers $2 million to study inorganic semiconductor nanoparticles’ role in bioenergy production

September 24, 2019 |

In New York state, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded an interdisciplinary team of Cornell researchers $2 million to study the combination of inorganic semiconductor nanoparticles and bacterial cells for more efficient bioenergy conversion.

The Cornell project was one of six selected by the DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research to explore microscopic imaging of plants and microbes as a way to advance bioenergy research.

The Cornell team is focusing on inorganic semiconductor nanoparticles called quantum dots, which have strong light-absorbing properties, and merging them with bacteria cells that can perform complicated chemical transformations precisely and efficiently. The resulting hybrid system will be able to harvest sunlight and utilize carbon dioxide that is abundant in the atmosphere to produce both high-value chemicals like plastic precursors and commodities like the infrastructure-compatible biofuel butanol and the bio-plastic polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB).

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Category: Research

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