In a recently published study, scientists show that the photocurrent generated by a single photosynthetic protein, photosystem I, can be measured using a scanning near-field optical microscope set-up.
A team of scientists, led by Joachim Reichert, Johannes Barth, and Alexander Holleitner (Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Clusters of Excellence MAP and NIM), and Itai Carmeli (Tel Aviv University) developed a method to measure photocurrents of a single functionalized photosynthetic protein system. The scientists could demonstrate that such a system can be integrated and selectively addressed in artificial photovoltaic device architectures while retaining their biomolecular functional properties. The proteins represent light-driven, highly efficient single-molecule electron pumps that can act as current generators in
The scientist investigated the photosystem-I reaction center which is a chlorophyll protein complex located in membranes of chloroplasts from cyanobacteria. Plants, algae, and bacteria use The first challenge the physicists had to master was the development of a method to electrically contact single molecules in strong optical fields. The central element of the realized nanodevice are photosynthetic proteins self-assembled and covalently bound to a gold electrode via cysteine mutation groups. The photocurrent was measured by means of a gold-covered glass tip employed in a scanning near-field optical microscopy set-up. The photosynthetic proteins are optically excited by a DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2012.165
The research was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) via the SPP 1243 (grants HO 3324/2 and RE 2592/2), the Clusters of Excellence Munich-Center for Advanced Photonics and Nanosystems Initiative Munich, as well as ERC Advanced Grant MolArt (no. 47299).
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