Photoelectron generation by photosystem II core complexes tethered to gold surfaces

Michele Vittadello, Maxim Y. Gorbunov, Daniel T. Mastrogiovanni, Leszek S. Wielunski, Eric L. Garfunkel, Fernando Guerrero, Diana Kirilovsky, Miwa Sugiura, A. William Rutherford, Ahmad Safari, Paul G. Falkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


By using a nondestructive, ultrasensitive, fluorescence kinetic technique, we measure in situ the photochemical energy conversion efficiency and electron transfer kinetics on the acceptor side of histidine-tagged photosystem II core complexes tethered to gold surfaces. Atomic force microscopy images coupled with Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy measurements further allow us to assess the quality, number of layers, and surface density of the reaction center films. Based on these measurements, we calculate that the theoretical photoelectronic current density available for an ideal monolayer of core complexes is 43 mAcm-2 at a photon flux density of 2000 mmolquanta m-2 s-1 between 365 and 750 nm. While this current density is approximately two orders of magnitude lower than the best organic photovoltaic cells (for an equivalent area), it provides an indication for future improvement strategies. The efficiency could be improved by increasing the optical cross section, by tuning the electron transfer physics between the core complexes and the metal surface, and by developing a multilayer structure, thereby making biomimetic photoelectron devices for hydrogen generation and chemical sensing more viable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-475
Number of pages5
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • Electron transfer
  • Fluorescence
  • Photosynthesis
  • Self-assembly
  • Surface chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Energy(all)

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