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Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry


BBSRC David Phillips 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 capture, 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.

Photosynthesis is the primary route by which solar energy is harnessed on Earth (it is responsible for sustaining 99% of this planet's ecosystems), and key in regulating our planet's carbon, nitrogen and oxygen cycles. Despite its importance, there remain significant knowledge gaps in the redox chemistry and electron transport pathways within photosynthesis. Moreover, photosynthetic organisms have evolved impressive and sustainable mechanisms for converting Earth abundant resources (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 to provide clean energy.

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.


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
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
– Science advances
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
– Nature Materials
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
– Chemical science
Author Correction: Advancing photosystem II photoelectrochemistry for semi-artificial photosynthesis (Nature Reviews Chemistry, (2020), 4, 1, (6-21), 10.1038/s41570-019-0149-4)
JZ Zhang, E Reisner
– Nature Reviews Chemistry
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
Advancing Techniques for Investigating the Enzyme-Electrode Interface.
N Kornienko, KH Ly, WE Robinson, N Heidary, JZ Zhang, E Reisner
– Accounts of Chemical Research
Structure-Activity Relationships of Hierarchical Three-Dimensional Electrodes with Photosystem II for Semiartificial Photosynthesis
E Reisner, X Fang, KP Sokol, N Heidary, TA Kandiel, JZ Zhang
– Nano Letters
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