During the electron transport chain, what process leads to the production of large amounts of ATP?
Discovery of this led to the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1997.
The earlier stages of the electron transport chain sets up a proton gradient across the inner mitochondrial membrane, with more protons outside the membrane.
Because of this gradient, the protons are waiting to 'rush in' across the membrane. This happens through the transmembrane protein ATP synthase, which uses this energy of moving protons through its pore to add a phosphate to ADP, thereby producing ATP.