Photosystem-I (green) is optically excited by an electrode (on top). An electron then is transferred step by step in only 16 nanoseconds.
Photo: Chair E 20/ TUM
The first challenge the physicists had to master was the development of a method to electrically contact single molecules in strong optical fields. The central element of the realized nanodevice are photosynthetic proteins self-assembled and covalently bound to a gold electrode via cysteine mutation groups. The photocurrent was measured by means of a gold-covered glass tip employed in a scanning near-field optical microscopy set-up. The photosynthetic proteins are optically excited by a photon flux guided through the tetrahedral tip that at the same time provides the electrical contact. With this technique, the physicists were able to monitor the photocurrent generated in single protein units.
The research was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) via the SPP 1243 (grants HO 3324/2 and RE 2592/2), the Excellence Clusters Munich Centre for Advanced Photonics and Nanosystems Initiative Munich, as well as ERC Advanced GrantMolArt (no. 47299).
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