Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plugging In Molecular Wires To Capture Light Energy

Date:
February 17, 2009
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Japanese researchers have developed a new process to capture light energy -- they "plug" a molecular "wire" directly into a biological photosynthetic system to efficiently conduct the free electrons to a gold electrode.

The secret to the success of natural photosystems is the perfect fit of the individual components. The molecules fit precisely together like plugs and sockets and can pass electrons on directly and nearly without loss.
Credit: Copyright Wiley-VCH

Plants, algae, and cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are masters of everything to do with solar energy because they are able to almost completely transform captured sunlight into chemical energy. This is in part because the electrons set free by the photons are transported out of the “light receptor” 1:1 to be used as the driving force for chemical reactions.

Related Articles


Japanese researchers have now developed a new process to capture light energy with nearly equal efficiency. As they report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, they “plug” a molecular “wire” directly into a biological photosynthetic system to efficiently conduct the free electrons to a gold electrode.

The efficiency of photovoltaic energy conversion is of critical significance for the practical application of solar installations. Theoretically, every photon absorbed should release one electron. Whereas modern solar cells are far from achieving high efficiency, natural photosynthetic systems achieve nearly 100 % quantum yield. To improve the efficiency of synthetic systems, experiments were attempted in which biological light-capturing units were deposited onto electrodes as thin films. However, the transfer of electrons from the light-capturing layer into the circuit in this type of system is so inefficient that most of the electrons don’t even make it to the target electrode.

The secret to the success of natural photosystems is the perfect fit of the individual components. The molecules fit precisely together like plugs and sockets and can pass electrons on directly and nearly without loss. The new approach taken by the Japanese researchers cleverly connects photosystem I (PSI) from the blue-green algae Thermosynechococcus elongatus with a synthetic apparatus. An important component of the electron transmission sequence of PSI is vitamin K1. The researchers removed the vitamin K1 from the PSI protein complex and replaced it with a synthetic analogue.

This consists of three parts:

  1. The same molecular “plug” with which vitamin K1 is bound to the protein complex (napthoquinone group) is used to “plug in” the synthetic binding component to PSI;
  2. a molecular “wire” (hydrocarbon chain) with the same length as in vitamin K1 ensures that the binding component protrudes from the protein complex; and
  3. at the other end of the wire is an additional “plug” (viologen group) that anchors the ensemble to a specially coated gold electrode.

Electrons released by irradiation of PSI and transmitted along the wire are very efficiently transmitted to the gold electrode by the viologen group.

It may be possible to use this new strategy to integrate other biocomponents into synthetic systems.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nao Terasaki. Plugging a Molecular Wire into Photosystem I: Reconstitution of the Photoelectric Conversion System on a Gold Electrode. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2009, 48, 1585%u20131587 DOI: 10.1002/anie.200805748

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Plugging In Molecular Wires To Capture Light Energy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212112736.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2009, February 17). Plugging In Molecular Wires To Capture Light Energy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212112736.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Plugging In Molecular Wires To Capture Light Energy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212112736.htm (accessed April 18, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA Electric Rover Goes for a Spin

NASA Electric Rover Goes for a Spin

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 17, 2015) NASA&apos;s prototype electric buggy could influence future space rovers and conventional cars. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Self-Powering Camera

Scientists Create Self-Powering Camera

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 17, 2015) American scientists build a self-powering camera that captures images without using an external power source, allowing it to operate indefinitely in a well-lit environment. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The State Of Virtual Reality

The State Of Virtual Reality

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Virtual Reality is still a young industry. What’s on offer and what should we expect from our immersive new future? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tackling Congestion in the World's Worst Traffic City

Tackling Congestion in the World's Worst Traffic City

Reuters - News Video Online (Apr. 16, 2015) New transportation system and regulations aim to resolve gridlock in Jakarta, which has been named the city with the world&apos;s worst traffic. Angie Teo reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins