A Kansas State University professor has a grant to study an area of physical chemistry that will provide more insight into the electronic structure and energy transfer processes in natural and artificial photosynthetic complexes.
Some day, this could help in the development of devices that more efficiently convert solar energy into electricity.
Ryszard Jankowiak, professor of chemistry at K-State, received a $380,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study two photosynthetic complexes from a type of bacteria. This grant is among the more than $1.5 million in grants that K-State has cleared to date in federal stimulus research funding.
Jankowiak received the 2009 Outstanding Senior Scientist Award from K-State's chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society. He has now received nearly $1 million in the past two years to study various aspects of photosynthesis using laser-based techniques and modeling studies.
For the project, Jankowiak and his researchers will use complementary methods and new approaches to advance the understanding of photosynthesis. He said that the rationale behind the research is that a better understanding of the structure-function relationship of these natural systems will aid in the development of artificial photovoltaic devices that can turn sunlight into electricity.
As part of the project, Jankowiak will develop a program for high school students to encourage them to pursue careers in science. These efforts will include a chemistry symposium at K-State for high school students and chemistry teachers across Kansas.