Photosynthesis is a metabolic process which makes stuff using light. How? How can you make anything from light? And why? Living things are made of complex organic molecules such as carbohydrates and proteins, as opposed to simple inorganic molecules such as carbon dioxide and water.
The vast majority of plants on Earth today undergo photosynthesis via a specific route (C3) which is slightly different to two other potential routes (C4 and CAM). The general balanced reaction for photosynthesis is:
H2O + CO2 + energy –> C6H12O6 + O2
…where water, carbon dioxide and energy are the starting materials, and glucose and oxygen the products. Here, glucose is the key product because it is the complex organic molecule made from simple inorganic reactants. The “energy”, as you may have noticed, is where the light comes in.
The energy stored in big molecules (such as carbohydrates) created via photosynthesis is derived in part through the light energy in photons. In order to tap into this energy, light must be…