Projects per year
In a quest to fabricate novel solar energy materials, the high quantum efficiency and long charge separated states of photosynthetic pigment-proteins are being exploited through their direct incorporation in bioelectronic devices. In this work, photocurrent generation by bacterial reaction center-light harvesting 1 (RC-LH1) complexes self-assembled on a nanostructured silver substrate yielded a peak photocurrent of 166 μA cm-2 under 1 sun illumination, and a maximum of over 400 μA cm-2 under 4 suns, the highest reported to date. A 2.5-fold plasmonic enhancement of light absorption per RC-LH1 complex was measured on the rough silver substrate. This plasmonic interaction was assessed using confocal fluorescence microscopy, revealing an increase of fluorescence yield and radiative rate of the RC-LH1 complexes. Nano-structuring of the silver substrate also enhanced the stability of the protein under continuous illumination by almost an order of magnitude relative to a non-structured bulk silver control. Due to its ease of construction, increased protein loading capacity, stability and more efficient use of light, this hybrid material is an excellent candidate for further development of plasmon enhanced biosensors and bio-photovoltaic devices.