Getting energy from sunlight: Plants have it down; humans have not quite got the knack for it. Hybrid systems made from natural and synthetic components could open new routes for harvesting solar energy.
Italian researchers have now introduced an approach to this type of system. As described in the journal Angewandte Chemie, they have combined the photochemical core of a bacterial photosynthetic system with an organic dye that acts as an “antenna”, significantly improving the capture of light.
In all organisms fuelled by photosynthesis, the functional organization of the photosynthetic apparatus is the same: pigment-protein complexes capture the light like a radio antenna catching radio waves and conduct it to a central photochemical core, the reaction center. Here the energy is converted to an electron-hole pair: a negatively charged electron is separated from its molecular core, leaving behind a positively charged “hole”.
This charge-separated state must be maintained long enough to be used. The organism uses this to drive its metabolism. In technological applications, charge separation may be used to drive a redox reaction like the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Nature has optimal control over these steps. Synthetic systems that efficiently capture light and use the energy to achieve charge separation have also been developed; however the lifetime of the charge separation is barely in the millisecond range. This is not enough to allow the energy to be drawn off efficiently. An interesting approach to solving this problem is to make hybrid systems that combine a tailored synthetic antenna with a natural “light converter”. Previously, synthetic antennas have been made from quantum dots, nanoscopic structures made of semiconductors.
Instead, researchers led by Gianluca M. Farinola and Massimo Trotta have elected to use a tailored organic dye molecule as their antenna. These have several advantages over inorganic structures: The molecular diversity of organic compounds allows for very fine tuning of the spectroscopic and electronic properties of the antenna. At the same time, the molecular form and flexibility can be controlled so that the antenna has practically no effect on the reaction center and its function, unlike quantum dots. An organic antenna can also be attached to nearly any desired location on the reaction center.
The Italian researchers combined their organic antenna with the extensively researched reaction center of the purple bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides R-26. They demonstrated that the antenna does not disrupt the function of the natural light converted; instead it improves its activity in a range of wavelengths not efficiently absorbed by the purely biological system.About the Author
Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2012, 51, No. 44, 11019–11023, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201203404
Dr Massimo Trotta | Angewandte Chemie
MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute
Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering