Highly Efficient Hybrid Bio-Seminconductor Photovoltaic Device

The Invention A novel device for photovoltaic conversion which consists of an oriented photoactive monolayer bound to a bottom metal electrode and a top transparent electrode. The photoactive components are oriented dry layers of a photosynthetic reaction center protein which were isolated from photosynthetic cyanobacteria and encapsulated in solid state substrate. The generated photocurrent at an absorbed light energy conversion efficiency of 34% (out of the theoretical 47%) and was found to be stable for at least one year. The invention is protected by two patents. The Need Solar cells or photovoltaic cells (PVC), are optoelectronic devices that converted sunlight to electrical power. The use of PVC as a renewable energy source is rapidly growing at an estimated 35% a year at in the world market. Current technology uses silicon-based PVC with an average energy conversion efficiency of 12-18%. Future technologies include the use of expensive GaAs and multi-junctions that have attained ~40% efficiency and dye and polymer PVCs which yield much lower efficiency than silicon cells but are less expensive. As all of these devices are not sufficiently cost effective, we propose to develop a PVC containing the nanometric biological photosynthetic reaction center protein, photosystem I (PS I), as a photoactive component that is expected to be more cost effective. PS I is a transmembrane protein-chlorophyll complex that mediates vectorial light-induced electron transfer. PS I generates a stable charge separation in 200 ns across 6 nm of protein to generate an electric potential of 1 V with quantum efficiency of 1 and absorbed energy conversion efficiency of 47%. PS I absorbs 53% of the sun irradiance between 400-700 nm, resulting in total sun irradiance energy conversion efficiency of 23% in cyanobacteria. A further advantage of PS1 is its transparency to infrared radiation obviating the need for expensive cooling equipment. Potential Applications The world market for photovoltaic devices is estimated at tens of billions of dollars a year. A cheaper, more efficient photocell would be very attractive for many applications such as space energy, remote lighting, battery recharging, home power generation, and much more.
Patent Two worldwide patents in PCT phase

Inventor(s): Chanoch Carmeli, Shachar Richter, Yossi Rosenwaks

Type of Offer: Licensing

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