Japanese researchers create synthetic plug to link 'bio' system to gold electrode for solar energy capture

February 13 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2


The most disruptive energy technologies of the 21st century might not exist today. They must be imagined and built.

Researchers are still working to evolve the basic science and applied engineering capacity to deliver low carbon solutions that can meet a doubling of global demand in the next three decades.

Bio-Synthetic Hybrids
One area of cutting edge research deals with the integration of naturally occurring (or patterned) biocomponents into synthetic systems used in devices like solar cells and fuel cells.

The vision is to build hybrids that blend what 'nature has perfected' at the molecular scale, with human engineering designs at an industrial scale.

While modern solar cells struggle for low cost efficiency, plants and microbes have figured out a way to capture sunlight and store it as chemical energy at almost near perfect molecular efficiency where each photon causes the release of one electron. How? Because the parts in the photo-receptor systems fit perfectly.  Researchers are now looking to create bio-hybrid systems that could inspire new forms of solar collectors.

Japanese researchers have now developed a new process to capture light energy with nearly equal efficiency by creating a synthetic molecular wire "plug" that transfers electrons from a biological photosynthetic system to a gold electrode. (Details here!)  There are no details about efficiency rates or how this system could scale, but it is a promising step forward!

Image Source Linked Credit

Caption: Photoinduced electron transfer occurs from photoexcited P700 in photosystem I (PSI) to a gold surface. A novel molecular connector system is used, in which an artificial molecular wire, which is assembled on the gold surface, was plugged into PSI by reconstitution. Analysis of the photoelectron transfer kinetics proved both the output of electrons from PSI and the effectiveness of the molecular wire.

Credit: (C) Wiley-VCH 2009

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