Light Harvesting using DNA and Intercalating Dyes

This research project concerns the use of DNA as a scaffold material for harvesting sunlight. Light harvesting is predominantly known from green plants and some bacteria. In these biological systems proteins are used as a scaffold to hold many light absorbing dye molecules in very specific positions. After light is absorbed, this energy is transferred to a specific cluster of molecules, known as a reaction centre, and used to store energy. For our artificial systems we use dyes that bind to DNA as our light absorbers. These can then donate energy to a porphyrin molecule which acts as our reaction centre. We have previously shown how a single type of DNA binding molecule can absorb large amounts of energy and efficiently shuttle it to the porphyrin (see figure). Currently we are working on a two-dye system, where high energy light is absorbed by one dye, then shuttled through the next dye, and finally ends at the porphyrin. A two-dye system greatly increases the maximum size of our system, and therefore allows us to harvest more light. We are also working on developing surface chemistries which will allow us to harness the energy that is shuttled to the porphyrin, for example for use in a new type of nano-scale lithography or for energy storage.



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Published: Sun 20 Oct 2013. Modified: Thu 28 Aug 2014