Jump to a Molecule:
Structural View of Biology >> Biological Energy

Structural View of Biology

Structures in the PDB reveal how cells use chemical energy, light energy, electrical energy and mechanical energy to power the processes of life. Cells must continually interconvert different forms of energy. Energy is obtained from many sources, including light and food. Molecular machines then use this energy to build new molecules, to power motion, to transport molecules to the proper place, to generate heat and light, and to regulate all of the processes occurring in the cell. Click on any of the sub-categories below to explore further.

Capturing the Energy in Food

Food is digested and broken down in many controlled chemical steps, capturing chemical energy along the way.


Life on Earth is ultimately powered by sunlight, which is used to build sugars through he process of photosynthesis.

Molecular Motors

Cells build molecular motors that walk and rotate.

Creating and Capturing Light

When needed, cells build molecules to create and focus light.

Please see our usage polices for citation and reprint information. Copies of the illustrations used in these features are available for download as high resolution TIFF images. Please note that the structures used to illustrate each installment are chosen at the discretion of the authors; the features are not intended to represent a historical record. The process behind the creation of this feature is described by the author.