Current interest in natural photosynthesis as a blueprint for solar energy conversion has led to the development of a biohybrid photovoltaic cell in which bacterial photosynthetic membrane vesicles (chromatophores) have been adsorbed to a gold electrode surface in conjunction with biological electrolytes (quinone [Q] and cytochrome c; Magis et al.  Biochim. Biophys. Acta1798, 637–645). Since light-driven current generation was dependent on an open circuit potential, we have tested whether this external potential could be replaced in an appropriately designed dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC). Herein, we show that a DSSC system in which the organic light-harvesting dye is replaced by robust chromatophores from Rhodospirillum rubrum, together with Q and cytochrome c as electrolytes, provides band energies between consecutive interfaces that facilitate a unidirectional flow of electrons. Solar I–V testing revealed a relatively high Isc (short-circuit current) of 25 μA cm−2 and the cell was capable of generating a current utilizing abundant near-IR photons (maximum at ca 880 nm) with greater than eight-fold higher energy conversion efficiency than white light. These studies represent a powerful demonstration of the photoexcitation properties of a biological system in a closed solid-state device and its successful implementation in a functioning solar cell.
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