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Near-IR Absorbing Solar Cell Sensitized With Bacterial Photosynthetic Membranes

Authors

  • Kamil Woronowicz,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ
      Corresponding author email: woronowicz@biology.rutgers.edu (K. Woronowicz); rniederm@rci.rutgers.edu (R.A. Niederman)
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  • Saquib Ahmed,

    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ
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  • Archana A. Biradar,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ
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  • Ankush V. Biradar,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ
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  • Dunbar P. Birnie,

    III
    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ
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  • Tewodros Asefa,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ
    2. Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ
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  • Robert A. Niederman

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ
      Corresponding author email: woronowicz@biology.rutgers.edu (K. Woronowicz); rniederm@rci.rutgers.edu (R.A. Niederman)
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Corresponding author email: woronowicz@biology.rutgers.edu (K. Woronowicz); rniederm@rci.rutgers.edu (R.A. Niederman)

Abstract

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. [2010] 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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