AAT Bioquest

Bio-inspired NADH regeneration by carbon nitride photocatalysis using diatom templates

One of the bigger problems facing society today is energy. Our dependence on fossil fuels for energy is not only environmentally unsustainable, but it also causes a whole host of social and economic issues. As a result, much of the scientific community has turned its attention towards trying to figure out a way to power the world using alternative sources of energy. Many have turned to the natural forms of energy that are found on Earth, specifically the sun, wind and waves, as ways to help replace fossil fuels. However, converting these energies into something that can be used is another issues altogether. But since these phenomena are not specific to humans' imagination, guidance can be found in nature. For example, diatoms, which are photosynthetic organisms that can be found in aquatic habitats, and which are responsible for nearly one fifth of the world's photosynthetic yield, offer significant promise. This is because diatoms feature unique frustule architectures with hierarchical structures ranging from micrometric to nanometric scales, something considered to factor into their high photosynthetic efficiency. Being able to reconstruct these frustules with photoactive material represents a promising way to create a photosynthetic system for light energy conversion.

This was the focus of the study conducted by Liu and Antonietti from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany. It is already known that enzymes can help recreate this process, but the procedure is complicated and therefore not very easily reproducible. So Liu and Antonietti looked at the natural process of photosynthesis, which uses light energy to reduce NAD+. But since this process normally occurs using rare metal chelated mediators or direct electron transfer, the environmental costs often outweigh the benefits. They decided to look at how polymeric carbon nitrade (g-C3N4) affects NADH regeneration. To do this, they needed to closely monitor NADH and NAD+ using the Amplite Fluorimetric Total NAD and NADH Assay Kit. This kit uses enzymes to specifically recognize NAD/NADH, which is superior to other methods that monitor NAD/NADH absorption at 340nm. Using this produces high sensitivity and interference, affecting the quality of the results. Amplite's assay mitigates these risks and produces far more accurate results.

At the conclusion of their study, Liu and Antonietti were able to reconstruct the photocatalytic regeneration of NADH by using graphitic carbon nitride with a diatom frustule structure. This is truly groundbreaking as it offers a way to make use of diatoms' photosynthetic efficiency without putting too much strain on the environment. To be able to be sure this reconstruction was accurate, the researchers needed to make sure they were receiving accurate measurements of NADH, something provided by the Amplite Fluorimetric Total NAD and NADH Assay Kit. The accuracy this assay provides is far better than similar assay kits, allowing for more confidence when reporting results. The findings from this study offer promise towards finding a way to harness natural and renewable energy sources to help combat the world's dependence on fossil fuels.



  1. Liu, Jian, and Markus Antonietti. "Bio-inspired NADH regeneration by carbon nitride photocatalysis using diatom templates." Energy & Environmental Science 6.5 (2013): 1486-1493.

Original created on January 15, 2018, last updated on January 15, 2018
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