Imperial College London

Dr Shengxi Shao

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Research Associate



s.shao11 Website




704Sir Ernst Chain BuildingSouth Kensington Campus




Who doesn't like sunshine?

No, not vampires. It must be phototrophs.

Some smart bugs started to invent solar machines from 3.2 billion years ago. Today, cyanobacteria, algae and plants have dominated this planet through the process called photosynthesis. But think about it, after 3.2 billion years of evolution, the efficiency of global photosynthesis is about 0.2% while the utilisation of a photon, once it’s on the right track, is nearly 100%. Apparently, phototrophs don’t like photosynthesis too much, but instead, they are using solar energy VERY carefully.

Photosynthesis, or more precisely oxygenic photosynthesis, generates the oxygen we breathe, produces the food we eat, and its ancient heritage become fossil fuels on which our civilisation relies. Despite the vital role to humanity, photosynthesis can be dangerous to photographs – It uses solar energy to split water molecules, one process that even the craziest chemist would not recommend for a biological system. Well, nature made it…