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Issue 1, 2011
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Supramolecular assembly of biohybrid photoconversion systems

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Self-assembled membrane architectures have great potential for the development of materials for the conversion of solar energy into electricity or fuels. Discovering the design principles that promote self-assembly in natural photosynthetic systems may provide inspiration for the development of synthetic solar conversion systems. We report for the first time that naturally occurring light harvesting antennae can alter the phase behavior of a poly(ethylene oxide)-block-poly(propylene oxide)-block-poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO–PPO–PEO) block copolymer system from micellar to lamellar structures mimicking their role in maintaining the supramolecular architecture of the photosynthetic membrane. Small-angle neutron scattering shows that PEO43–PPO16–PEO43 micelles undergo a phase transition from a micellar state to a lamellar structure with a ∼60 Å spatial repetition in the presence of plant light harvesting complex II (LHCII). In addition, spectrophotometric analysis indicates that the protein self-assembles in the synthetic membrane structure. Photodependent hydrogen production mediated by LHCII embedded in the block copolymer had a maximum rate of 6.4 µmol h−1 per mg chlorophyll. The production of H2 was sustained for greater than 100 hours showing the potential of this approach for the development of self-assembled bioinspired photoconversion systems. Although excited energy transfer is the primary function of LHCII, this work provides evidence that the protein complex can also perform electron transfer, a role not known to occur in vivo. The significance of this work is that it provides a novel approach for developing a new class of membrane-based smart material with a well-controlled architecture that is dependent on the assembly of interacting components, and it could also have important implications in self-repair and control of energy transfer in photoconversion devices.

Graphical abstract: Supramolecular assembly of biohybrid photoconversion systems

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The article was received on 18 Aug 2010, accepted on 21 Oct 2010 and first published on 22 Nov 2010

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C0EE00369G
Citation: Energy Environ. Sci., 2011,4, 181-188
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    Supramolecular assembly of biohybrid photoconversion systems

    M. B. Cardoso, D. Smolensky, W. T. Heller, K. Hong and H. O'Neill, Energy Environ. Sci., 2011, 4, 181
    DOI: 10.1039/C0EE00369G

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