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Chong Liu one-ups plant photosynthesis

New system generates clean energy on the small scale

By
1:48pm, October 4, 2017
Chong Liu

SOLAR STAR Chong Liu, an inorganic chemist at UCLA, has pioneered new approaches to artificial photosynthesis that combine bacteria and inorganic materials.

Chong Liu, 30
Inorganic chemist
UCLA

For Chong Liu, asking a scientific question is something like placing a bet: You throw all your energy into tackling a big and challenging problem with no guarantee of a reward. As a student, he bet that he could create a contraption that photosynthesizes like a leaf on a tree — but better. For the now 30-year-old chemist, the gamble is paying off.

“He opened up a new field,” says Peidong Yang, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley who was Liu’s Ph.D. adviser. Liu was among the first to combine bacteria with metals or other inorganic materials to replicate the energy-generating chemical reactions of photosynthesis, Yang says. Liu

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