Engineered Nano-bio Hybrid Electronic Platform for Solar Energy Harvesting

Report No. ARL-TR-5226
Authors: Shashi P. Karna, Govind Mallick, Mark H. Griep, and Craig R. Friedrich
Date/Pages: June 2010; 18 pages
Abstract: Bacteriorhodopsin is an opto-electric protein found in the membrane of the extremophile bacterium Halobacterium salinarum. The protein creates a charge gradient across its 6-nm thickness and, when integrated with inorganic electron generation and transport materials such as titania nanotubes, may be useful as a new class of photon harvesters. Bacteriorhodopsin strongly absorbs light near the 570-nm wavelength, but its photoelectric activity is now shown to increase by at least 35% when integrated with ultraviolet (UV)-scavenging quantum dots. We also investigated several solar cell architectures by integrating the protein with various conductive substrates of indium tin oxide, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide nanotubes. Electrolytes tested included physiological phosphate buffer and an iodine-triiodide material used in dye sensitized solar cells. Preliminary results from millimeter-scale test devices show voltage and current levels of potential use in microelectronic devices.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: June 1, 2010