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Department of Chemistry

 
David Phillips Fellow
Jenny completed her PhD in bioinorganic chemistry at the University of Sydney, Australia, with a brief stint at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she developed redox active platinum-based anti-cancer agents and studied their biodistribtion/metabolism within tumour models. She then became a Marie Curie Incoming International Fellow at the University of Cambridge, working with Prof Erwin Reisner to explore how biocatalysts can be exploited to generate solar fuels. In particular, she worked on developing strategies to re-wire oxidoreductases, such as the water-oxidation enzyme photosystem II, to electrodes/semiconductors/other proteins in an emerging field known as 'semi-artificial photosynthesis'. She has since been awarded a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship and started her independent group in 2018 at the Department of Chemistry. Here, she takes her takes on the re-wiring of photosynthesis to another level of complexity - in live cells!
Research interests
Semi-artificial photosynthesis, (photo)electrochemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, chemical biology, materials chemistry, 3D-printing, biofilm chemistry
Current research
Photosynthesis is a primary energy conversion process that lies at the start of our food chain and plays a key role in the regulation of the Earth's carbon, nitrogen and oxygen cycles. Cyanobacterial and algae are photosynthetic microorganisms that inhabit diverse terrains and are amongst the most abundant life forms on Earth. They played a profound role in tera-transforming our planet and giving rise to the complex life forms we have today. In the process, they have evolved impressive machinery for converting sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into complex organic matter. As such, scientists of all disciplines are trying to understand and exploit their complex chemistry to benefit agriculture, the environment, and even to provide clean energy.
Our research interrogates the chemistry behind biological energy conversion reactions and pathways, in particular within photosynthesis. Complementing this, we develop tools for understanding the bio-material interface and recruiting biological materials (from enzymes to live cells) into biotechnologies (e.g. biophotovoltaics, biosensors, anti-microbials). Our approach is highly multi-disciplinary and blends materials engineering with chemical biology, electrochemistry, biophysics, synthetic chemistry and biology. By developing tools to understand how natural photosynthetic systems can be interfaced with synthetic materials for energy and charge transfer, the productivity of enzymes and microorganisms in general may be better harnessed in the near future to do more useful chemistry.
The link to our website is on the right.

Publications

The Development of Biophotovoltaic Systems for Power Generation and Biological Analysis
LT Wey, P Bombelli, X Chen, JM Lawrence, CM Rabideau, SJL Rowden, JZ Zhang, CJ Howe
– ChemElectroChem
(2019)
6,
5375
Cover Feature: The Development of Biophotovoltaic Systems for Power Generation and Biological Analysis (ChemElectroChem 21/2019)
LT Wey, P Bombelli, X Chen, JM Lawrence, CM Rabideau, SJL Rowden, JZ Zhang, CJ Howe
– ChemElectroChem
(2019)
6,
5352
Advancing Techniques for Investigating the Enzyme-Electrode Interface
N Kornienko, KH Ly, WE Robinson, N Heidary, JZ Zhang, E Reisner
– Accounts of chemical research
(2019)
52,
1439
Structure-activity relationships of hierarchical three-dimensional electrodes with photosystem II for semi-artifcial photosynthesis
X Fang, KP Sokol, N Heidary, TA Kandiel, JZ Zhang, E Reisner
– Nano letters
(2019)
19,
1844
Modulating the Cellular Uptake of Fluorescently Tagged Substrates of Prostate-Specific Antigen before and after Enzymatic Activation
L Di Marco, JZ Zhang, J Doan, BJ Kim, N Yamamoto, NS Bryce, TW Hambley
– Bioconjug Chem
(2019)
30,
124
Oxygenic Photoreactivity in Photosystem II Studied by Rotating Ring Disk Electrochemistry
N Kornienko, JZ Zhang, KP Sokol, S Lamaison, A Fantuzzi, R van Grondelle, AW Rutherford, E Reisner
– Journal of the American Chemical Society
(2018)
140,
17923
Bias-free photoeletrochemical water splitting with photosystem II on a dye-sensitised photoanode wired to hydrogenase
KP Sokol, WE Robinson, J Warnan, N Kornienko, MM Nowaczyk, A Ruff, JZ Zhang, E Reisner
– Nature Energy
(2018)
3,
944
Interfacing nature's catalytic machinery with synthetic materials for semi-artificial photosynthesis
N Kornienko, JZ Zhang, KK Sakimoto, P Yang, E Reisner
– Nature nanotechnology
(2018)
13,
890
Solar Water Splitting with a Hydrogenase Integrated in Photoelectrochemical Tandem Cells
DH Nam, JZ Zhang, V Andrei, N Kornienko, N Heidary, A Wagner, K Nakanishi, KP Sokol, B Slater, I Zebger, S Hofmann, JC Fontecilla‚ÄźCamps, CB Park, E Reisner
– Angewandte Chemie
(2018)
130,
10755
Solar Water Splitting with a Hydrogenase Integrated in Photoelectrochemical Tandem Cells.
DH Nam, JZ Zhang, V Andrei, N Kornienko, N Heidary, A Wagner, K Nakanishi, KP Sokol, B Slater, I Zebger, S Hofmann, JC Fontecilla-Camps, CB Park, E Reisner
– Angew Chem Int Ed Engl
(2018)
57,
10595
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