High-Performance UV Enhancer Molecules Coupled with Photosynthetic Proteins for Ultra-Low-Intensity UV Detection

Lakshmi Suresh, Jayraj Vaghasiya, Dilip Krishna Nandakumar, Tingfeng Wu, Mike Jones, Swee Ching Tan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Dual attributes of UV-photo-responsive organic-ionic conductors are exploited in bio-photoelectrochemical cells based on photosynthetic RC-LH1 proteins from Rhodobacter sphaeroides. These UV enhancer molecules (UVEM) can generate small photocurrents in the absence of protein and are also effective electrolytes for photocurrent generation by RC-LH1 complexes in response to near-infrared excitation. Mixing RC-LH1 and UVEM components strongly enhanced UV photocurrents relative to those obtained with protein or UVEM alone, an effect that is attributed to energy transfer from the hetero-anthracene chromophore of the UVEM to the carotenoids of the RC-LH1 complex. RC-LH1/UVEM bio-photoelectrochemical cells were superior to conventional RC-LH1 cells in terms of UV external quantum efficiency, photo-response sensitivity, and photocurrent rise-decay times. These bio-photodetectors could detect weak UV radiation with intensities as low as 2 μW/cm2. This combination of photosynthetic proteins with dual-function electrolytes is the first attempt to construct fully functional bio-photoelectrochemical UV photodetector based on natural components.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1847-1860
Number of pages14
Issue number7
Early online date16 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2019

Structured keywords

  • BrisSynBio
  • Bristol BioDesign Institute


  • bio-photoelectrochemical cell
  • FRET
  • organic ionic conductors
  • organic UV enhancer molecule
  • photosynthetic proteins
  • SDG7: Affordable and clean energy
  • ultra-low intensity UV detection
  • UV detector
  • Synthetic biology


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