May 23, 2019 | Updated: 11:35 AM EDT

Study Reveals How to Increase the Lifespan of Bioelectrodes in Converting Solar Energy

Apr 28, 2019 10:19 AM EDT

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Photosynthesis
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Bochum Research Team (IMAGE)
(Photo : RUB, Marquard) Wolfgang Schuhmann, Fangyuan Zhao, Adrian Ruff and Felipe Conzuelo (from the left) work on long-lasting bioelectrodes.

Scientists are constantly finding ways to create affordable and efficient devices to convert energy. One of the methods is through the use of proteins in the photosynthetic process, such as the vigorous proteins in photosystem I. The stability of semi-artificial electrodes integrated with isolated protein complexes is short-lived; thus, this shortcoming limits the use of this technology in biodevices. Ruhr-Universitat Bochum scientists described their findings in the Journal of the Americal Chemical Society regarding how to achieve high stability without oxygen in their photosystem-based bioelectrode. 

The researchers were composed of Dr. Fangyuan Zhao, Dr. Adrian Ruff, Dr. Felipe Conzuelo, and Professor Wolfgang Schuhmann from the Chair of Analytical Chemistry and Center for Electrochemical Sciences, together with Professor Matthias Rögner from the Bochum Chair of Plant Biochemistry. 

It is a challenge for scientists to find new methods of producing energy efficiently. It is crucial that the hindrances that limit the lifetime of technologies for green and renewable energy conversion should be conquered. Among various techniques available, "the use of protein complexes involved in the photosynthetic process for the fabrication of semi-artificial devices is of particular interest due to their high efficiency and large natural availability," according to Journal of the American Chemical Society. 

Previous studies by the researchers show that biodevices have a limited lifespan due to the reactive molecules formed that destroy photosystem I under the operation of the bioelectrode. Oxygen acts as the final electron acceptor and is associated with these reactive species. Thus, the scientists recommended that bioelectrodes should not work in an environment with oxygen. 

The results of the research showed that the lifetime of the device is effectively increased without oxygen when operating the bioelectrode.

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