- We present a study of the self-assembly, charge-transfer kinetics, and catalytic properties of hybrid complexes of CdTe nanocrystals (nc-CdTe) and Clostridium acetobutylicum [FeFe]-hydrogenase I (H(2)ase). Molecular assembly of nc-CdTe and H(2)ase was mediated by electrostatic interactions and resulted in stable, enzymatically active complexes. The assembly kinetics was monitored by nc-CdTe photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy and exhibited first-order Langmuir adsorption behavior. PL was also used to monitor the transfer of photogenerated electrons from nc-CdTe to H(2)ase. The extent to which the intramolecular electron transfer (ET) contributed to the relaxation of photoexcited nc-CdTe relative to the intrinsic radiative and nonradiative (heat dissipation and surface trapping) recombination pathways was shown by steady-state PL spectroscopy to be a function of the nc-CdTe/H(2)ase molar ratio. When the H(2)ase concentration was lower than the nc-CdTe concentration during assembly, the resulting contribution of ET to PL bleaching was enhanced, which resulted in maximal rates of H(2) photoproduction. Photoproduction of H(2) was also a function of the nc-CdTe PL quantum efficiency (PLQE), with higher-PLQE nanocrystals producing higher levels of H(2), suggesting that photogenerated electrons are transferred to H(2)ase directly from core nanocrystal states rather than from surface-trap states. The duration of H(2) photoproduction was limited by the stability of nc-CdTe under the reactions conditions. A first approach to optimization with ascorbic acid present as a sacrificial donor resulted in photon-to-H(2) efficiencies of 9% under monochromatic light and 1.8% under AM 1.5 white light. In summary, nc-CdTe and H(2)ase spontaneously assemble into complexes that upon illumination transfer photogenerated electrons from core nc-CdTe states to H(2)ase, with low H(2)ase coverages promoting optimal orientations for intramolecular ET and solar H(2) production.