Electron Transfer from Semiconductor Nanocrystals to Redox Enzymes

Annu Rev Phys Chem. 2020 Apr 20:71:335-359. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physchem-050317-014232. Epub 2020 Feb 25.


This review summarizes progress in understanding electron transfer from photoexcited nanocrystals to redox enzymes. The combination of the light-harvesting properties of nanocrystals and the catalytic properties of redox enzymes has emerged as a versatile platform to drive a variety of enzyme-catalyzed reactions with light. Transfer of a photoexcited charge from a nanocrystal to an enzyme is a critical first step for these reactions. This process has been studied in depth in systems that combine Cd-chalcogenide nanocrystals with hydrogenases. The two components can be assembled in close proximity to enable direct interfacial electron transfer or integrated with redox mediators to transport charges. Time-resolved spectroscopy and kinetic modeling have been used to measure the rates and efficiencies of the electron transfer. Electron transfer has been described within the framework of Marcus theory, providing insights into the factors that can be used to control the photochemical activity of these biohybrid systems. The range of potential applications and reactions that can be achieved using nanocrystal-enzyme systems is expanding, and numerous fundamental and practical questions remain to be addressed.

Keywords: biohybrid; charge transfer; nanocrystal; photochemistry; redox enzyme; time-resolved spectroscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cadmium / chemistry*
  • Cadmium Compounds / chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Chalcogens / chemistry*
  • Electron Transport
  • Hydrogenase / chemistry*
  • Hydrogenase / metabolism
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / chemistry
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Photochemical Processes
  • Semiconductors
  • Static Electricity
  • Sulfides / chemistry


  • Cadmium Compounds
  • Chalcogens
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • Sulfides
  • Cadmium
  • cadmium sulfide
  • iron hydrogenase
  • Hydrogenase