Chemists have been using
the SPring-8 synchrotron at the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute
to get a detailed look at enzymes that could help power the green economy.
One option for powering clean, environment friendly vehicles is to run them on hydrogen fuel rather than carbon-based fuels. Cheap catalysts to prepare hydrogen gas (H2) are a necessity if this future "hydrogen economy" is to become a reality.
Current man-made catalysts are based on platinum, a rare and precious metal. However, living cells contain enzymes called hydrogenases, based on the abundant metals nickel and iron, which can do the same job. Chemists are very interested in figuring out how these natural catalysts work and trying to mimic them.
Saeed Kamali, a postdoctoral researcher at U.C. Davis and Stephen Cramer, professor of chemistry have just published a study revealing new details of the iron-nickel complex at the heart of the natural hydrogenase.
In collaboration with researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and in the U.S., they used a technique called Nuclear Resonance Vibrational Spectroscopy (NRVS) and the SPring-8 synchrotron at the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute to probe the crystals and discovered new information about how the atoms in the complex can move.
Published in Angewandte Chemie