1200% enhancement of solar energy conversion by engineering three dimensional arrays of flexible biophotoelectrochemical cells in a fixed footprint encompassed by Johnson solid shaped optical well

et al.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Abstract

Photosynthetic proteins carry out photochemical charge separation with a near-unity quantum efficiency and provide interesting materials for sustainable solar energy conversion in man-made photoelectrochemical devices. The three-dimensional architectures of natural photosynthesisers on both macroscopic and microscopic length scales contrast strikingly with the essentially two-dimensional architectures of commercial photovoltaic devices. In this work we fabricated flexible and semi-transparent bio-photoelectrochemical cells (BPEC) that showed excellent flexibility and durability in response to repeated mechanical deformation. A three-dimensional stack of five such BPECs connected in parallel produced a peak photocurrent of 2900 nA under simulated sunlight in the laboratory and 2400 nA when tested outdoors. Placement of the BPEC stack within either a regular solid reflective well or a Johnson solid reflective well further boosted these photocurrents, computational analysis indicating that the strongest boost that more than doubled output was the consequence of multiple reflections within the Johnson solid that increased the light intensity incident on the BPEC stack. These design features, inspired by natural structures for absorbing and reflecting sunlight, improved the relative performance of the BPECs under non-peak insolation, such that the photocurrent output under natural sunlight was relatively uniform between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. We discuss how the flexibility, durability and partial transparency of the individual BPECs enable the fabrication of cell arrays with a range of three-dimensional architectures
Original languageEnglish
Article number105424
Number of pages13
JournalNano Energy
Volume79
Early online date28 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Photosynthetic protein
  • bio-photovoltaics
  • flexible electrodes
  • Johnson solid
  • optical wells
  • three-dimensional architecture

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