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Longer life for bioelectrodes

Date: 2019-05-03 12:36:35.0
Author: Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum

Proteins involved in photosynthesis can be used to inexpensively and efficiently generate solar energy.

Although these proteins, such as photosystem I, are inherently robust, the lifetime of isolated protein complexes in semi-artificial electrodes is significantly shorter. Therefore, the technological application of such bioelectrodes is still limited. A research team from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) has now shown that operation in an oxygen-free environment significantly prolongs the life of the bioelectrode.

The team around Dr. Fangyuan Zhao, dr. Adrian Ruff, dr. Felipe Conzuelo and Prof. dr. Wolfgang Schuhmann from the Center for Electrochemistry and Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Rögner from the Department of Plant Biochemistry reports in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Use green energy

"In order to generate energy sustainably and efficiently, we must not only understand but also overcome the processes that limit the lifetime of renewable energy conversion technologies," says Wolfgang Schuhmann. The use of protein complexes involved in the photosynthesis of plants is of particular interest. First, these proteins efficiently convert solar to electrical energy, and secondly, they are widely available in nature.

Oxygen is to blame

The researchers have already shown in previous work that the operation of the bioelectrode produces reactive molecules that damage the photosystem I and are responsible for the limited lifetime of the bioelectrode. These reactive species are formed by oxygen, which acts as an electron acceptor. "That's why we proposed the design of bioelectrodes that operate in an oxygen-free environment," explains Felipe Conzuelo.

Step to the application

Tests have now shown that the lifetime of the bioelectrodes significantly increased under the exclusion of oxygen compared to the operation under the influence of oxygen. "This is an important step in the efficient development and subsequent application of photobioelectrics for energy conversion," said Fangyuan Zhao.

 

About Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Located in the heart of Europe in the dynamic metropolitan region of the Ruhrgebiet, RUB with its 20 faculties is home to over 43,000 students from over 130 countries.

For further information about Ruhr-Universität Bochum, please visit the website here.


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