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Comptes Rendus Chimie
Volume 14, n° 4
pages 362-371 (avril 2011)
Doi : 10.1016/j.crci.2010.01.013
Received : 19 November 2009 ;  accepted : 18 January 2010
Bioinspired catalysis at the crossroads between biology and chemistry: A remarkable example of an electrocatalytic material mimicking hydrogenases

Marc Fontecave a, b, c, , d , Vincent Artero a, b, c
a Laboratoire de chimie et biologie des métaux, université Joseph-Fourier, Grenoble, France 
b CNRS UMR 5249, France 
c CEA, DSV/iRTSV, CEA-Grenoble, 17, avenue des Martyrs, 38054 Grenoble cedex 9, France 
d Collège de France, 11, place Marcelin-Berthelot, 75231 Paris cedex 05, France 

Corresponding author.

There is an increasing need for new, efficient and cheap chemical catalysts, as part of the emerging “green” chemistry field. Living organisms provide a wealth of fascinating enzymes, with exceptional catalytic efficiencies and selectivities, which can be either directly exploited in biotechnological synthetic systems or imitated by chemists. The bioinspired catalysis approach exploits the basic chemical principles on which a biological enzyme active site is built in order to generate original functional analogs of this site. This is illustrated here with a molecular electrode material inspired from hydrogenases, metalloenzymes involved in hydrogen metabolism, and displaying exceptional electrocatalytic properties for hydrogen production and oxidation, thus with potential applications for electrolyzer and fuel cell technologies.

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Keywords : Biocatalysis, Bioinorganic chemistry, Synthetic biology, Hydrogenases, Electrocatalysis, Carbon nanotubes

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