Plasmon-induced absorption of blind chlorophylls in photosynthetic proteins assembled on silver nanowires†
We demonstrate that controlled assembly of eukaryotic photosystem I with its associated light harvesting antenna complex (PSI-LHCI) on plasmonically active silver nanowires (AgNWs) substantially improves the optical functionality of such a novel biohybrid nanostructure. By comparing fluorescence intensities measured for PSI-LHCI complex randomly oriented on AgNWs and the results obtained for the PSI-LHCI/cytochrome c553 (cyt c553) bioconjugate with AgNWs we conclude that the specific binding of photosynthetic complexes with defined uniform orientation yields selective excitation of a pool of chlorophyll (Chl) molecules that are otherwise almost non-absorbing. This is remarkable, as this study shows for the first time that plasmonic excitations in metallic nanostructures can not only be used to enhance native absorption of photosynthetic pigments, but also – by employing cyt c553 as the conjugation cofactor – to activate the specific Chl pools as the absorbing sites only when the uniform and well-defined orientation of PSI-LHCI with respect to plasmonic nanostructures is achieved. As absorption of PSI alone is comparatively low, our approach lends itself as an innovative approach to outperform the reported-to-date biohybrid devices with respect to solar energy conversion.