First Bio-Solar Cells Coming off the Production Line
We are using the protein Photosystem I (PSI) as the working medium in bio-photovoltaic cells. PSI is located in the thylakoid membrane of plants that undergo photosynthesis and has good electron transfer capabilities when exposed to light. This protein is extracted from spinach for use in photovoltaic cells. Each cell consists of a 75 x 38 mm glass slide covered with nanoporous gold foil cathode. An acrylic spacer rests on the foil, creating a reservoir filled with a PSI multilayer and electrolyte solution. A polyethylene sheet covered in indium tin oxide (ITO) serves as the anode and is located above the PSI multilayer. Copper tape runs under the ITO and connects individual cells in series to form a circuit. Another glass slide caps the cell and is glued in place using waterproof adhesives. The desired final product is a 2’ x 2’ panel consisting of individual cells. These cells will be mounted on a silicon base to form the panel.
Production of this device has never been attempted. Successful generation of even small amounts of electricity would have far-reaching implications in the quest for cleaner energy. While electrical output will not hope to rival polysilicon-based photovoltaic cells, its manufacturing process may require significantly less electricity and, with further development, could eventually become a viable source of clean energy. Perhaps most importantly, this project serves to raise awareness open the doorway for other innovative and unique attempts at cleaner energy.