In a big step forward toward making BIO-photoelectrochemical cells (BIOcells) a mainstream clean energy source in the future, researchers from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology and Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have overcome an efficiency hurdle by successfully combining the power of efficient light absorption by photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes with the electrochemical power of Photosystem II (PSII), nature’s water splitting enzyme. The breakthrough is a functional solution to overcoming previously limited efficiency due to a "green-light gap" in the absorption spectrum of biosolar energy devices. The findings were published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.
As the world strives to replace fossil fuel with clean energy sources, solar energy – because of its abundance and total lack of polluting elements – is considered a particularly valuable energy source. In nature, bacteria, algae, and plant life have evolved to efficiently convert solar energy into chemical energy via photosynthesis. BIOcells are an innovative concept in the field of renewable energy aimed at harnessing this natural process semi-artificially for the development of clean, affordable, and efficient energy sources.
BIOcells utilize large protein complexes called photosystems, which have the capacity to convert sunlight into electrical energy. Isolated from plants, algae, or cyanobacteria, photosystems are responsible for natural sunlight to energy conversion in nature. PSII is a valuable type of photosystem because it uses water as an electron source for the generation of electricity. It is the source of all the oxygen that we breath and all the food that we eat.
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