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In the next fifty years humanity faces unprecedented challenges in the development of alternative energy sources to fossil fuels. One possible solution is the harvesting of sunlight to generate fuels, which could be achieved by the use of artificial enzymes. A promising approach to the development of artificial enzymes is the construction of protein ‘maquettes’ – smaller models of larger proteins that can bind functional cofactors. Such maquettes have demonstrated a variety of functions such as electron transfer and reversible oxygen binding. They can be inserted into membranes and linked to create larger systems. Future challenges include the development of hydrogenase and water oxidation activities into maquette-like systems and the coupling of proton and electron transfers.

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