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Photoenhanced Electrochemical Interaction between Shewanella and a Hematite Nanowire Photoanode

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journal contribution
posted on 11.06.2014, 00:00 by Fang Qian, Hanyu Wang, Yichuan Ling, Gongming Wang, Michael P. Thelen, Yat Li
Here we report the investigation of interplay between light, a hematite nanowire-arrayed photoelectrode, and Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 in a solar-assisted microbial photoelectrochemical system (solar MPS). Whole cell electrochemistry and microbial fuel cell (MFC) characterization of Shewanella oneidensis strain MR-1 showed that these cells cultured under (semi)­anaerobic conditions expressed substantial c-type cytochrome outer membrane proteins, exhibited well-defined redox peaks, and generated bioelectricity in a MFC device. Cyclic voltammogram studies of hematite nanowire electrodes revealed active electron transfer at the hematite/cell interface. Notably, under a positive bias and light illumination, the hematite electrode immersed in a live cell culture was able to produce 150% more photocurrent than that in the abiotic control of medium or dead culture, suggesting a photoenhanced electrochemical interaction between hematite and Shewanella. The enhanced photocurrent was attributed to the additional redox species associated with MR-1 cells that are more thermodynamically favorable to be oxidized than water. Long-term operation of the hematite solar MPS with light on/off cycles showed stable current generation up to 2 weeks. Fluorescent optical microscope and scanning electron microscope imaging revealed that the top of the hematite nanowire arrays were covered by a biofilm, and iron determination colorimetric assay revealed 11% iron loss after a 10-day operation. To our knowledge, this is the first report on interfacing a photoanode directly with electricigens in a MFC system. Such a system could open up new possibilities in solar-microbial device that can harvest solar energy and recycle biomass simultaneously to treat wastewater, produce electricity, and chemical fuels in a self-sustained manner.