Angela Belcher and team at MIT have tweaked a bacterial virus to serve as a scaffolding to:
attract and bind with molecules of a catalyst (the team used iridium oxide) and a biological pigment (zinc porphyrins). The viruses became wire-like devices that could very efficiently split the oxygen from water molecules.
Belcher says that
within two years she expects to have a prototype device that can carry out the whole process of splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen, using a self-sustaining and durable system.
This is just a very early taste of what we can expect someday from more extensively designed molecular machine systems. —Chris Peterson