Journal article

Photoelectrochemical complexes for solar energy conversion that chemically and autonomously regenerate

Naturally occurring photosynthetic systems use elaborate pathways of self-repair to limit the impact of photo-damage. Here, we demonstrate a complex consisting of two recombinant proteins, phospholipids and a carbon nanotube that mimics this process. The components self-assemble into a configuration in which an array of lipid bilayers aggregate on the surface of the carbon nanotube, creating a platform for the attachment of light-converting proteins. The system can disassemble upon the addn. of a surfactant and reassemble upon its removal over an indefinite no. of cycles. The assembly is thermodynamically metastable and can only transition reversibly if the rate of surfactant removal exceeds a threshold value. Only in the assembled state do the complexes exhibit photoelectrochem. activity. We demonstrate a regeneration cycle that uses surfactant to switch between assembled and disassembled states, resulting in an increased photoconversion efficiency of more than 300% over 168 h and an indefinite extension of the system lifetime. [on SciFinder(R)]


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