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Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) have been highlighted as the promising alternative to generate clean energy based on low pay-back time materials. These devices have been designed to mimic solar energy conversion processes from photosynthetic organisms (the most efficient energy transduction phenomenon observed in nature) with the aid of low-cost materials. Recently, light-harvesting complexes (LHC) have been proposed as potential dyes in DSSCs based on their higher light-absorption efficiencies as compared to synthetic dyes. In this work, photo-electrochemical hybrid devices were rationally designed by adding for the first time Leu and Lys tags to heterologously expressed light-harvesting proteins from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, thus allowing their proper orientation and immobilization on graphene electrodes. The light-harvesting complex 4 from C. reinhardtii (LHC4) was initially expressed in Escherichia coli, purified via affinity chromatography and subsequently immobilized on plasma-treated thin-film graphene electrodes. A photocurrent density of 40.30 ± 9.26 μA/cm2 was measured on devices using liquid electrolytes supplemented with a phosphonated viologen to facilitate charge transfer. Our results suggest that a new family of graphene-based thin-film photovoltaic devices can be manufactured from rationally tagged LHC proteins and opens the possibility to further explore fundamental processes of energy transfer for biological components interfaced with synthetic materials.


Martha I Ortiz-Torres, Miguel Fernández-Niño, Juan C Cruz, Andrea Capasso, Fabio Matteocci, Edgar J Patiño, Yenny Hernández, Andrés Fernando González Barrios. Rational Design of Photo-Electrochemical Hybrid Devices Based on Graphene and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii Light-Harvesting Proteins. Scientific reports. 2020 Feb 25;10(1):3376

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PMID: 32099058

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