At Brigham Young University, Professor Richard Watt and his team have proven that a common protein can not only react with sunlight but harvest its energy for use.
Richard Watt is no stranger to the world of science; in addition to work at Princeton and relatives both close and distant that have claims to fame as inventors, he and his team have now managed to demonstrate that the common protein Ferritin can absorb and harvest sunlight's energy much in the same way as chlorophyll.
Ferritin is a protein produced by almost all living creatures that is used for the storage of iron, and it generally goes about its business without being bothered by the world of nanoparticle science. Now, some bright minds at BYU have come along and decided it might be worth testing out if this ubiquitous iron storage mechanism might be an option for free green energy.
For their test, Watt and his colleagues used a vial filled with a combination of citric acid, gold powder and Ferritin which was then exposed to sunlight. After 20 minutes, the solution had turned purple, proving Watt's hypothesis.
Why? Well, once enough energy had been absorbed by the Ferritin it caused an excitation in the citric acid, which in turn caused the gold powder to clump together into tiny, purple-colored nanoparticles. The team then repeated the experiment with a high powered tungsten mercury lamp for faster results, and lo and behold, were easily successful.
The future's so bright: he doesn't need no stinkin' shades.
While this doesn't mean your car is suddenly going to run on Ferritin and gold dust, it does mean that one of the most common proteins found in nature has the ability to absorb and redirect a significant amount of energy using nothing but free, fabulous sunlight.
Next in line for Watt and company will be partnering with the National Institute of Aerospace to see if a fuel-cell model can be developed using the protein.
Soon enough, we may be running entirely on our own power.
Photo Credit: Mark A. Philbrick