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25 Nov 2008 05:11:21

Solar 'leaf' uses photosynthesis on gold



Solar 'leaf' uses photosynthesis on gold
New photovoltaic technology has been developed that harnesses proteins plants use to create photosynthesis for the generation of electricity from sunlight.

Scientists at Vanderbilt University put the proteins on thin sheets of gold to create their own photosynthetic reaction.

Since the discovery in the 1990's that the PS1 photosynthetic complex could remain active if immobilised on a gold plate, the technology for extracting the protein, the process has been developed further.

Kane Jennings and Peter Cieseleski of Vanderilt dissolved the silver in a gold-silver alloy leaf, leaving them with a porous material with a high surface area onto which the PS1 could be attached.

When exposed to light, the PS1 compounds generate electric current, though at the moment it is still very low – producing 800 nanoamps per square centimetre.

According to Jennings, the team is working with thicker films which could power a cheap calculator.

Meanwhile, scientists have also discovered a slug which powers itself by photosynthetic processes it steals from special algae.

The Elysia Chlorotica can survive a year after eating the algae for just two weeks, as a result of a section of its DNA which resembles the algal genetic code.

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nn800389k


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