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Polyviologen as Electron Transport Material in Photosystem I‑Based Biophotovoltaic Cells

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journal contribution
posted on 29.11.2018, 00:00 by Dilek Dervishogullari, Evan A. Gizzie, G. Kane Jennings, David E. Cliffel
The photosynthetic protein complex, photosystem I (PSI), can be photoexcited with a quantum efficiency approaching unity and can be integrated into solar energy conversion devices as the photoactive electrode. The incorporation of PSI into conducting polymer frameworks allows for improved conductivity and orientational control in the photoactive layer. Polyviologens are a unique class of organic polycationic polymers that can rapidly accept electrons from a primary donor such as photoexcited PSI and subsequently can donate them to a secondary acceptor. Monomeric viologens, such as methyl viologen, have been widely used as diffusible mediators in wet PSI-based photoelectrochemical cells on the basis of their suitable redox potentials for accepting electrons. Polyviologens possess similar electronic properties to their monomers with the added advantage that they can shuttle electrons in the solid state. Depositing polyviologen directly onto a film of PSI protein results in significant photocurrent enhancement, which confirms its role as an electron-transport material. The polymer film not only improves the photocurrent by aiding the electron transfer but also helps preserve the protein film underneath. The composite polymer–PSI assembly enhances the charge-shuttling processes from individual protein molecules within the PSI multilayer, greatly reducing charge-transfer resistances. The resulting PSI-based solid-state platform demonstrates a much higher photocurrent than the corresponding photoelectrochemical cell built using a similar architecture.