Scientists have found a way to combine spinach’s photosynthetic protein, which naturally converts light into electrochemical energy, with silicon in a new “biohybrid” solar cell. The protein is called Photosystem 1 (PS1). Researchers say that this spinach-based material produces substantially more electrical current than has been reported by previous “biohybrid” solar cells, and could be key to increasing solar energy efficiency.
The study, which was published online in the journal Advanced Materials, was inspired by the fact that spinach plants are able to convert sunlight into electrical energy with nearly 100 percent efficiency. Most manmade solar cells can achieve only 40 percent efficiency or less. It’s taken several decades for scientists to figure out how to extract this PS1 from the spinach plant, and now, they’ve demonstrated that it can be made into cells that produce electrical current when exposed to sunlight. Vanderbilt’s David Salisbury explains more:
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