For the first time, MIT researchers have incorporated a plant’s ability to convert sunlight to energy into a solid-state electronic “spinach sandwich” device that may one day power laptops and cell phones.
At the heart of the device is a protein complex dubbed Photosystem I (PSI). Derived from spinach chloroplasts, PSI is 10 to 20 nanometers wide. Around 100,000 of them would fit on the head of a pin. “They are the smallest electronic circuits I know of,” said researcher Marc A. Baldo, assistant professor of electronic engineering and computer science at MIT.
Baldo and other researchers from MIT, the University of Tennessee and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, including electrical and biomedical engineers, nanotechnology experts and biologists, collaborated on the world’s first solid-state photosynthetic solar cell. The work was reported in NanoLetters, a publication of the American Chemical Society. “We have crossed the first hurdle of successfully integrating a photosynthetic protein molecular complex with a solid-state electronic device,” Baldo said.
Denise Brehm | EurekAlert!
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