Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.

Issue 1, 2011
Previous Article Next Article

Supramolecular assembly of biohybrid photoconversion systems

Author affiliations


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

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Article information

18 Aug 2010
21 Oct 2010
First published
22 Nov 2010

Energy Environ. Sci., 2011,4, 181-188
Article type

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

Social activity

Search articles by author