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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Organic Photocells

I found this paper in Nature.

Photoelectrochemical complexes for solar energy conversion that chemically and autonomously regenerate

Moon-Ho Ham1,6, Jong Hyun Choi2,6, Ardemis A. Boghossian1,6, Esther S. Jeng1,6, Rachel A. Graff1, Daniel A. Heller1, Alice C. Chang1, Aidas Mattis3, Timothy H. Bayburt3, Yelena V. Grinkova3, Adam S. Zeiger4, Krystyn J. Van Vliet4, Erik K. Hobbie5, Stephen G. Sligar3, Colin A. Wraight3 & Michael S. Strano1

Abstract Naturally occurring photosynthetic systems use elaborate pathways of self-repair to limit the impact of photo-damage. Here, we demonstrate a complex consisting of two recombinant proteins, phospholipids and a carbon nanotube that mimics this process. The components self-assemble into a configuration in which an array of lipid bilayers aggregate on the surface of the carbon nanotube, creating a platform for the attachment of light-converting proteins. The system can disassemble upon the addition of a surfactant and reassemble upon its removal over an indefinite number of cycles. The assembly is thermodynamically metastable and can only transition reversibly if the rate of surfactant removal exceeds a threshold value. Only in the assembled state do the complexes exhibit photoelectrochemical activity. We demonstrate a regeneration cycle that uses surfactant to switch between assembled and disassembled states, resulting in an increased photoconversion efficiency of more than 300% over 168 hours and an indefinite extension of the system lifetime.

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