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Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry


BBSRC David Philips Research Fellow

Research interests

Semi-artificial photosynthesis, (photo)electrochemistry, chemical biology, materials chemistry, bioenergetics

Current research

Our goal is to develop smart bio-hybrid approaches that can serve as tools to understand the bioenergetics of complex biological systems and as a platform to launch new biotechnologies to address a range of societal needs (including for renewable energy generation, carbon recycling, precision farming, environmental sensing, and medicine). Currently, we are focused on re-wiring photosynthesis for sustainable photo-energy conversion. We work at the intersection of many disciplines, including physics, synthetic biology, chemical biology, engineering and material science; however, at the heart of our work is electrochemistry.

To find out more, please see our website (

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 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 at the Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry. Here, she takes on the re-wiring of photosynthesis to another level of complexity - in live cells! She has recently been awarded the RSC Felix Franks Biotechnology Medal and the L'Oreal UNESCO Sustainable Development award for Women in Science.

Watch Dr Zhang discuss her research


Harvesting photocurrents from cyanobacteria and algae
J Zhang, EI Wroe, RM Egan, SJ Willyam, L Shang
– Current Opinion in Electrochemistry
Rewiring photosynthetic electron transport chains for solar energy conversion
JM Lawrence, RM Egan, T Hoefer, A Scarampi, L Shang, CJ Howe, JZ Zhang
– Nature Reviews Bioengineering
Photosynthesis re-wired on the pico-second timescale.
TK Baikie, LT Wey, JM Lawrence, H Medipally, E Reisner, MM Nowaczyk, RH Friend, CJ Howe, C Schnedermann, A Rao, JZ Zhang
– Nature
The 2022 solar fuels roadmap
G Segev, J Kibsgaard, C Hahn, ZJ Xu, WH Cheng, TG Deutsch, C Xiang, JZ Zhang, L Hammarström, DG Nocera, AZ Weber, P Agbo, T Hisatomi, FE Osterloh, K Domen, FF Abdi, S Haussener, DJ Miller, S Ardo, PC McIntyre, T Hannappel, S Hu, H Atwater, JM Gregoire, MZ Ertem, ID Sharp, KS Choi, JS Lee, O Ishitani, JW Ager, RR Prabhakar, AT Bell, SW Boettcher, K Vincent, K Takanabe, V Artero, R Napier, BR Cuenya, MTM Koper, R Van De Krol, F Houle
– Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Synthetic biology and bioelectrochemical tools for electrogenetic system engineering.
JM Lawrence, Y Yin, P Bombelli, A Scarampi, M Storch, LT Wey, A Climent-Catala, PixCell iGEM Team, GS Baldwin, D O'Hare, CJ Howe, JZ Zhang, TE Ouldridge, R Ledesma-Amaro
– Sci Adv
3D-printed hierarchical pillar array electrodes for high-performance semi-artificial photosynthesis
X Chen, JM Lawrence, LT Wey, L Schertel, Q Jing, S Vignolini, CJ Howe, S Kar-Narayan, JZ Zhang
– Nat Mater
A biophotoelectrochemical approach to unravelling the role of cyanobacterial cell structures in exoelectrogenesis
LT Wey, JM Lawrence, X Chen, R Clark, DJ Lea-Smith, JZ Zhang, CJ Howe
– Electrochimica Acta
Phenazines as model low-midpoint potential electron shuttles for photosynthetic bioelectrochemical systems.
ER Clifford, RW Bradley, LT Wey, JM Lawrence, X Chen, CJ Howe, JZ Zhang
– Chem Sci
Advancing photosystem II photoelectrochemistry for semi-artificial photosynthesis
JZ Zhang, E Reisner
– Nature Reviews Chemistry
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
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