skip to content

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.


Photoelectrocatalytic H$_2$ evolution in water with molecular catalysts immobilised on p-Si $\textit{via}$ a stabilising mesoporous TiO$_2$ interlayer
E Reisner, J Leung, J Warnan, D Nam, J Zhang, J Willkomm
– Chem Sci
Competing charge transfer pathways at the photosystem II-electrode interface
JZ Zhang, KP Sokol, N Paul, E Romero, R van Grondelle, E Reisner
– Nature Chemical Biology
Rational wiring of photosystem II to hierarchical indium tin oxide electrodes using redox polymers
KP Sokol, D Mersch, V Hartmann, JZ Zhang, MM Nowaczyk, M Rögner, A Ruff, W Schuhmann, N Plumeré, E Reisner
– Energy & Environmental Science
Wiring of Photosystem II to Hydrogenase for Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting.
D Mersch, C-Y Lee, JZ Zhang, K Brinkert, JC Fontecilla-Camps, AW Rutherford, E Reisner
– J Am Chem Soc
A Si Photocathode Protected and Activated with a Ti and Ni Composite Film for Solar Hydrogen Production
Y-H Lai, HS Park, JZ Zhang, PD Matthews, DS Wright, E Reisner
– Chemistry - A European Journal
Protein film photoelectrochemistry of the water oxidation enzyme photosystem II
M Kato, JZ Zhang, N Paul, E Reisner
– Chem. Soc. Rev.
Influence of Equatorial and Axial Carboxylato Ligands on the Kinetic Inertness of Platinum(IV) Complexes in the Presence of Ascorbate and Cysteine and within DLD‑1 Cancer Cells
CKJ Chen, JZ Zhang, JB Aitken, TW Hambley
– Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
Facile Preparation of Mono‐, Di‐ and Mixed‐Carboxylato Platinum(IV) Complexes for Versatile Anticancer Prodrug Design
JZ Zhang, P Bonnitcha, E Wexselblatt, AV Klein, Y Najajreh, D Gibson, TW Hambley
– Chemistry - A European Journal
Getting to the core of platinum drug bio-distributions: The penetration of anti-cancer platinum complexes into spheroid tumour models
JZ Zhang, NS Bryce, A Lanzirotti, CKJ Chen, D Paterson, MD de Jonge, DL Howard, TW Hambley
– Metallomics
The use of spectroscopic imaging and mapping techniques in the characterisation and study of DLD-1 cell spheroid tumour models.
JZ Zhang, NS Bryce, R Siegele, EA Carter, D Paterson, MD de Jonge, DL Howard, CG Ryan, TW Hambley
– Integr Biol (Camb)
  • <
  • 3 of 4
  • >