Plasmon-Enhanced Photocurrent of Photosynthetic Pigment Proteins on Nanoporous Silver

Vincent M Friebe, Juan D Delgado, David Swainsbury, J. Michael Gruber, Alina Chanaewa, R van Grondelle, Elizabeth von Hauff, Diego Millo, Mike Jones, Raoul N Frese

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

73 Citations (Scopus)
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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285–292
Number of pages7
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number2
Early online date7 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2016


  • Plasmon
  • Bio-photovoltaics
  • Photoelectrochemistry
  • Photosynthesis
  • Biosensors
  • Bioelectronics


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