Light-Gated Synthetic Protocells for Plasmon-Enhanced Chemiosmotic Gradient Generation and ATP Synthesis

Zhaowei Chen, Gleiciani De Queiros Silveira, Xuedan Ma, Yunsong Xie, Yimin A. Wu, Edward Barry, Tijana Rajh, H. Christopher Fry, Philip D. Laible, Elena A. Rozhkova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Herein, we present a light-gated protocell model made of plasmonic colloidal capsules (CCs) assembled with bacteriorhodopsin for converting solar energy into electrochemical gradients to drive the synthesis of energy-storage molecules. This synthetic protocell incorporated an important intrinsic property of noble metal colloidal particles, namely, plasmonic resonance. In particular, the near-field coupling between adjacent metal nanoparticles gave rise to strongly localized electric fields and resulted in a broad absorption in the whole visible spectra, which in turn promoted the flux of photons to bacteriorhodopsin and accelerated the proton pumping kinetics. The cell-like potential of this design was further demonstrated by leveraging the outward pumped protons as “chemical signals” for triggering ATP biosynthesis in a coexistent synthetic protocell population. Hereby, we lay the ground work for the engineering of colloidal supraparticle-based synthetic protocells with higher-order functionalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4896-4900
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • bacteriorhodopsin
  • chemiosmotic gradients
  • colloidal capsules
  • plasmonic resonance
  • protocells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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