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Functionalization of Nanostructured Hematite Thin-Film Electrodes with the Light-Harvesting Membrane Protein C-Phycocyanin Yields an Enhanced Photocurrent

Authors

  • Debajeet K. Bora,

    1. Laboratory for High Performance Ceramics, Empa. Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 129, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
    2. Department of Chemistry, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 80, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland
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  • Elena A. Rozhkova,

    1. Nano Bio Interfaces, Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Class Avenue, Argonne, IL, 60439, USA
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  • Krisztina Schrantz,

    1. Laboratory for High Performance Ceramics, Empa. Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 129, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
    2. University of Szeged, Department of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, Domtér7, H-6701 Szeged, Hungary
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  • Pradeep P. Wyss,

    1. Laboratory for High Performance Ceramics, Empa. Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 129, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
    2. FHNW – University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, School of Life Sciences and Institute for Chemistry and Bioanalytics, Grüdenstrasse 40, CH-4132 Muttenz, Switzerland
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  • Artur Braun,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory for High Performance Ceramics, Empa. Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 129, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
    2. Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 402 Holmes Hall, 2540 Dole Street, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
    • Laboratory for High Performance Ceramics, Empa. Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 129, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.
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  • Thomas Graule,

    1. Laboratory for High Performance Ceramics, Empa. Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 129, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
    2. Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, Bernhard-v.-cotta Str.2, D-09596 Freiberg, Germany
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  • Edwin C. Constable

    1. Department of Chemistry, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 80, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland
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Abstract

The integration of light-harvesting proteins and other photosynthetic molecular machinery with semiconductor surfaces plays an important role in improving their performance as solar-cell materials. Phycocyanin is one such protein that can be employed for this purpose. Phycocyanins have light-harvesting properties and belong to the phycobilisome protein family. They are present in cyanobacteria, which capture light energy and funnel it to reaction centers during photosynthesis. Here, a way of increasing the photocurrent of hematite by covalent cross-coupling with phycocyanin is reported. For this, a hematite–phycocyanin integrated system is assembled by consecutive adsorption and cross-coupling of protein molecules, separated by an agarose layer and a linker molecule, on the top of a mesoporous hematite film. The hematite–phycocyanin assembly shows a two-fold increased photocurrent in comparison with pristine hematite film. The increase in the photocurrent is attributed to the enhanced light absorption of the hematite film after integration with the protein, as is evident from the UV–vis spectra and from the photocurrent-action spectrum. The assembly shows long-term stability and thus constitutes a promising hybrid photoanode for photo-electrochemical applications.

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