Assembly of Biologically Derived Nanostructures for Photovoltaic Applications
Solar energy is the most abundant renewable energy source available. Recently, several technologies have been developed to harness this energy efficiently and at low cost. Promising technologies include novel thin films devices composed of inorganic semiconductors, quantum dots and polymers. In order to efficiently utilize and transport the photons absorbed in these devices, the materials must be rationally organized at the nanoscale. High aspect ratio structures have been shown to continuous pathways for charge transport and to improve the performance of photovoltaic devices. To assemble such nanostructures in solution, functional biotemplates, which are intensive and abundantly found in nature, can be used. For example, the nanowire-shaped M13 bacteriophage provides peptide binding site for several photoactive nanomaterials, and allows for the formation of semiconducting or metallic nanowires. We use genetically engineered bacteriophages and other biologically-derived templates to create plasmonic arrays, nanoporous scaffolds for heterojunction solar cells, and various nanostructured materials for photovoltaic and other energy-related devices.