Researchers led by Osamu Ishitani at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a ruthenium-rhenium photocatalyst that in the presence of sunlight can reduce carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide can then be synthesized into other materials including fuels.
The Ru-Re complex is able to capture sunlight with a quantum efficiency of 0.21 (21% of photons are converted to electron-hole pairs which then trigger the catalytic process), with the potential for achieving 0.34. Ru-Re is very selective, reducing carbon dioxide but not water, a problem with other artificial photosynthetic compounds.
Although photosynthesis does not rely on ruthenium or rhenium, the Japanese process mimics the ability of photosynthesis to convert sunlight into substances that can be easily stored and turned into other useful products. Additional work is underway to stabilize the compound.
Thanks to EcoGeek for the pointer!