How does photosynthesis make food?


Plants use photosynthesis to make food but how does that process work? Humans have solar panels but they make electricity not food and plants don’t eat electricity?

In: 4

The chloroplasts of the plant cell will use the energy from sunlight to bond and rearrange carbon dioxide molecules into long chains. These long chain molecules are sugars which the cells can then use and consume for other processes.

Plants use energy from the sun to make sugars and O2 out of carbon dioxide. Instead of creating electrical energy like solar panels do, they create chemical energy in the form of sugars. Organisms can then create other molecules from the sugars, or use the chemical energy of the sugars (by breaking it down) to create wholly new molecules from other things. Plants also make structures like tubers (ie potatoes), among others, to store the sugars in a form called starch.

Photosynthesis and solar panels are not related at all, except in the bare sense of using the sun as an energy source.

Photosynthesis occurs mostly in plants, specifically in tiny plant cell organs called chloroplasts. There are proteins groups called reaction centers that are made up of a bunch of enzymes/proteins and pigments, like chlorophyll. When sunlight hits the pigments, the pigments absorb the energy from the sunlight. This causes the pigments to lose an electron, which creates a charge imbalance. The protein use this charge imbalance as a form of energy to drive the reactions; the proteins change their shape and/or manipulate other molecules as a result of this charge imbalance. At the end, a small amount of chemical energy (in the form of ATP: the specific name is not important) is generated.

The ATP is used in another part of the chloroplast to crush carbon dioxide and water into glucose, a form of simple sugar (this also creates oxygen from the water that’s used in the process). This glucose is the basis of all food that we eat on the planet.

The specifics of the process are very complicated, but this should be a simple summary of how it works.

Solar panels do something similar with a very different end product. When the solar cell absorbs light, an electron is knocked off of one part of the cell and onto another part. These two parts are not directly connected; the only way the electron can get back to the original part (to balance the charges) is through a wire. This movement of electrons through wires is what we call electricity.

Wait so the plant could run out of electrons to make food or is that just impossible as there are so many cells for the light to hit. Super explanation. Never did I think I it would make sugar, plants are insanely complex and amazing how they evolved to do this.