Bio-based solar cell developed by the researchers in Germany by embedding the two proteins photosystem 1 and 2, which in plants are responsible of photosynthesis, into complex molecules developed in-house, thus creating an efficient electron current. In leaves, the photosystems 1 and 2 utilise light energy very efficiently; this is required for converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and biomass. The Bochum researchers’ bio-based solar cell, on the other hand, generates electricity rather than biomass.
Because of their habitat and behaviour, their photosystems are much more stable than comparable proteins of species that do not occur under extreme environmental conditions. Prof Schuhmann’s team developed complex electron-conducting materials, so-called redox hydrogels. The researchers embedded the photosystems into these hydrogels in order to connect them to the electrodes of the photovoltaic cells.
“The system may be considered a blue print for the development of semi-artificial and natural cell systems in which photosynthesis is used for the light-driven production of secondary energy carriers such as hydrogen,” says Prof Rogner.
More about the structure of the bio-based solar cell and efficiency potential see SolarDaily.