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Functionalized Nanoporous Gold Leaf Electrode Films for the Immobilization of Photosystem I


Plants and some types of bacteria demonstrate an elegant means to capitalize on the superabundance of solar energy that reaches our planet with their energy conversion process called photosynthesis. Seeking to harness Nature’s optimization of this process, we have devised a biomimetic photonic energy conversion system that makes use of the photoactive protein complex Photosystem I, immobilized on the
surface of nanoporous gold leaf (NPGL) electrodes, to drive a photoinduced electric current through an electrochemical cell. The intent of this study is to further the understanding of how the useful functionality of
these naturally mass-produced, biological light-harvesting complexes can be integrated with nonbiological materials. Here, we show that the protein complexes retain their photonic energy conversion functionality after
attachment to the nanoporous electrode surface and, further, that the additional PSI/electrode interfacial area provided by the NPGL allows for an increase in PSI-mediated electron transfer with respect to an analogous 2D system if the pores are sufficiently enlarged by dealloying. This increase of interfacial area is pertinent for other
applications involving electron transfer between phases; thus, we also report on the widely accessible and scalable method by which the NPGL electrode films used in this study are fabricated and attached to glass and Au/Si supports and demonstrate their adaptability by modification with various self-assembled monolayers. Finally,
we demonstrate that the magnitude of the PSI-catalyzed photocurrents provided by the NPGL electrode films is dependent upon the intensity of the light used to irradiate the electrodes.