Leading solar fuels since 1994


The Swedish Consortium for Artificial Photosynthesis is a collaborative research environment with the purpose of advancing the science and utilization of solar fuels - fuel from solar energy. We bring together leading scientists with expertise in molecular biology, biophysics and biochemistry, synthetic chemistry and chemical physics.

The Consortium was started in 1994. Since then we have assembled the necessary expertise in an integrated research body, known as the Swedish Consortium for Artificial Photosynthesis.

Here we present who we are and what is going on in our research. We invite anyone who wants to know more about artificial photosynthesis and solar fuels to follow the links to the homepages of our researchers.  


Image: Cecilia Tilli

Spotlight on innovation

Every year Ny Teknika weekly magazine for technology and engineering, publishes a list of the most innovative  young, Swedish tech companies. This year three of these were founded at the Department for Chemistry - Ångström at Uppsala university. The startup company Peafowl Solar Power was started 2018 by the CAP member Jacinto Sá. The company has developed a new type of solar cell generating electrical current using plasmon nano particles. Peafowlsolarpower.com


Presently the Swedish Consortium for Artificial Photosynthesis follows the official recommendations to practice social distancing, and to work from home when feasible. This means that all CAP meetings are planned to be held remotely until further notice. 

However, we continue to give scientific seminars/webinars, utilizing online meeting tools such as Zoom. So keep an eye on our calendar and check in on our News and Events page every now and then, to see what's next.

Stay safe!

June 2020:  Kateřina Holá, Mariia V. Pavliuk, Brigitta Németh, Ping Huang, Lukáš Zdražil, Henrik Land, Gustav Berggren, and Haining Tian published an article in ACS Catalysis:

Carbon Dots and [FeFe] Hydrogenase Biohybrid Assemblies for Efficient Light-Driven Hydrogen Evolution


Artificial photosynthesis is seen as a path to convert and store solar energy into chemical energy for our society. In this work, highly fluorescent aspartic acid-based carbon dots (CDs) are synthesized and employed as a photosensitizer to drive photocatalytic hydrogen evolution with an [FeFe] hydrogenase (CrHydA1). The direct interaction in CDs from l-aspartic acid (AspCDs)/CrHydA1 self-assembly systems, which is visualized from native gel electrophoresis, has been systematically investigated to understand the electron-transfer dynamics and its impact on photocatalytic efficiency. The study discloses the significant influence of the electrostatic surrounding generated by sacrificial electron donors on the intimate interplay within the oppositely charged subunits of the biohybrid assembly as well as the overall photocatalytic performance. The system reaches an external quantum efficiency of 1.7% at 420 nm and an initial activity of 1.73 μmol(H2) /mg (hydrogenase) /min under favorable electrostatic conditions. Owing to the ability of the synthesized AspCDs to operate efficiently under visible light, in contrast to other materials that require UV illumination, the stability of the biohybrid assembly in the presence of a redox mediator extends beyond 1 week.

June 2020:  Rui Miao, Hao Xie, Xufeng Liu, Pia Lindberg and Peter Lindblad published an article in Current Opinion in Chemical Biology:

Current processes and future challenges of photoautotrophic production of acetyl-CoA-derived solar fuels and chemicals in cyanobacteria


The production of fuels and other valuable chemicals via biological routes has gained significant attention during last decades. Cyanobacteria are prokaryotes that convert solar energy to chemical compounds in vivo in direct processes. Intensive studies have been carried out with the aim of engineering cyanobacteria as microfactories for solar fuel and chemical production. Engineered strains of photosynthetic cyanobacteria can produce different compounds on a proof-of-concept level, but few products show titers comparable with those achieved in heterotrophic organisms. Efficient genetic engineering tools and metabolic modeling can accelerate the development of solar fuel and chemical production in cyanobacteria. 

This review addresses the most recent approaches to produce solar fuels and chemicals in engineered cyanobacteria with a focus on acetyl-CoA-dependent products.

April 2020:  Mohammad Ziaur Rahman,  Haining Tian, and  Tomas Edvinsson published an article in Angewandte Chemie International Edition:

Revisiting the Limiting Factors for Overall Water‐Splitting on Organic Photocatalysts

Abstract: In pursuit of inexpensive and earth abundant photocatalysts for solar hydrogen production from water, conjugated polymers have shown potential to be a viable alternative to widely used inorganic counterparts. The photocatalytic performance of polymeric photocatalysts, however, is very poor in comparison to that of inorganic photocatalysts. Most of the organic photocatalysts are active in hydrogen production only when a sacrificial electron donor (SED) is added into the solution, and their high performances often rely on presence of noble metal co‐catalyst (e.g. Pt). For pursuing a carbon neutral and cost‐effective green hydrogen production, unassisted hydrogen production solely from water is one of the critical requirements to translate a mere bench‐top research interest into the real world applications. Although this is a generic problem for both inorganic and organic types of photocatalysts, organic photocatalysts are mostly investigated in the half‐reaction and have so far shown limited success in hydrogen production from overall water‐splitting. To make progress, this article exclusively discusses critical factors that are limiting the overall water‐splitting in organic photocatalysts. Additionally, we also have extended the discussion to stability issues and the accurate reporting of the hydrogen production, and issues to be resolved to reach 10% STH (solar‐to‐hydrogen) conversion efficiency.

April 2020:  M. Ibrahim,  T. Fransson,  R. Chatterjee,  Mun Hon CheahR. Hussein, L. Lassalle,  K. D. Sutherlin,  I. D. Young,  F. D. Fuller, S. Gul, I.-S. Kim, P.S. Simon,  Casper de Lichtenberg, Petko Chernev, I. Bogacz, C. C. Pham,  A. M. Orville, N. Saichek, T. Northen,  A.r Batyuk, S. Carbajo, R. Alonso-Mori, K. Tono, S. Owada, A. Bhowmick, R. Bolotovsky, D. Mendez,  N. W. Moriarty,  J. M. Holton, H. Dobbek,  A. S. Brewster, P. D. Adams, N. K. Sauter,  U. Bergmann,  A. Zouni,  Johannes MessingerJ. Kern,  V. K. Yachandra, and  J. Yano published an article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.:

Untangling the sequence of events during the S2 → S3 transition in photosystem II and implications for the water oxidation mechanism

Abstract: In oxygenic photosynthesis, light-driven oxidation of water to molecular oxygen is carried out by the oxygen-evolving complex (OEC) in photosystem II (PS II). Recently, we reported the room-temperature structures of PS II in the four (semi)stable S-states, S1, S2, S3, and S0, showing that a water molecule is inserted during the S2 → S3 transition, as a new bridging O(H)-ligand between Mn1 and Ca. To understand the sequence of events leading to the formation of this last stable intermediate state before O2 formation, we recorded diffraction and Mn X-ray emission spectroscopy (XES) data at several time points during the S2 → S3 transition. At the electron acceptor site, changes due to the two-electron redox chemistry at the quinones, QA and QB, are observed. At the donor site, tyrosine YZ and His190 H-bonded to it move by 50 µs after the second flash, and Glu189 moves away from Ca. This is followed by Mn1 and Mn4 moving apart, and the insertion of OX(H) at the open coordination site of Mn1. This water, possibly a ligand of Ca, could be supplied via a “water wheel”-like arrangement of five waters next to the OEC that is connected by a large channel to the bulk solvent. XES spectra show that Mn oxidation (τ of ∼350 µs) during the S2 → S3 transition mirrors the appearance of OX electron density. This indicates that the oxidation state change and the insertion of water as a bridging atom between Mn1 and Ca are highly correlated..

March 2020:  Brian D. McCarthy, Anna M. Beiler, Ben A. Johnson, Timofey Liseev, Ashleigh T.Castner, and Sascha Ott published an article in Coordination Chemistry Reviews:

Analysis of Electrocatalytic Metal-organic Frameworks

Abstract: The electrochemical analysis of molecular catalysts for the conversion of bulk feedstocks into energy-rich clean fuels has seen dramatic advances in the last decade. More recently, increased attention has focused on the characterization of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) containing well-defined redox and catalytically active sites, with the overall goal to develop structurally stable materials that are industrially relevant for large-scale solar fuel syntheses. Successful electrochemical analysis of such materials draws heavily on well-established homogeneous techniques, yet the nature of solid materials presents additional challenges. In this tutorial-style review, we cover the basics of electrochemical analysis of electroactive MOFs, including considerations of bulk stability, methods of attaching MOFs to electrodes, interpreting fundamental electrochemical data, and finally electrocatalytic kinetic characterization. We conclude with a perspective of some of the prospects and challenges in the field of electrocatalytic MOFs.

January 7, 2020:   Mun Hon Cheah,  Miao Zhang,  Dmitry Shevela,  Fikret Mamedov,  Athina Zouni, and  Johannes Messinger published an article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA:

Assessment of the manganese cluster’s oxidation state via photoactivation of photosystem II microcrystals

Significance: Photosynthetic water oxidation by the multi-subunit membrane protein complex PSII is an important process that sustains all aerobic life on Earth by producing molecular oxygen from sunlight and water. Understanding the mechanism of this process is crucial toward advancing fundamental knowledge as well as providing a blueprint for the development of solar fuel devices. Important pieces of information required for solving the mechanism of biological water oxidation are the oxidation states of the manganese ions forming the catalytic site of water oxidation in PSII. Here, we resolve a long-standing controversy between 2 competing schools of thought, by providing a clear-cut determination of overall manganese oxidation states using a simple counting experiment.

Fig. 4: (Top) Laser flash spacing’s used for photoactivation of apo-PSII microcrystals suspension by various combinations of tightly spaced preflashes (green line) and monitoring flashes (red line) with 15-s spacing. The dark time of 240 s was employed to allow the back reaction of the S2 and S3 states to S1. (Bottom) Total number of flashes required to observe the first O2 evolution (left axis) during the photoactivation of apo-PSII crystals with various combinations of preflashes and monitoring flashes (see Top). The yields of the first O2 peaks, plotted in blue, are the averages of 2 repeat measurements, and the error bars are SDs.

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March 4, 2019: CAP scientists in the TV news

At the CAP meeting in Umeå, CAP researchers were discussing future hydrogen technology. We also had the chance to test drive a fuel cell vehicle that runs on hydrogen gas. Swedish public service television filmed the event, which can be watched here: Vätgasbilar spås ha nyckelroll i framtiden

Participants in the CAP workshop in Sigtuna, Sweden, April 26-27, 2018.

Participants in the CAP workshop in Sigtuna, Sweden, April 26-27, 2018.

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Last updated January 7, 2021