Near-IR absorbing solar cell sensitized with bacterial photosynthetic membranes

Kamil Woronowicz, Saquib Ahmed, Archana A. Biradar, Ankush V. Biradar, Dunbar P. Birnie, Tewodros Asefa, Robert A. Niederman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1467-1472
Number of pages6
JournalPhotochemistry and Photobiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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