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Hybrid Metamaterials for Solar Biofuel Generation

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Final rept. 15 Jul 2010-14 Jan 2014

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We are creating a novel multifunctional solar biofuel generating platform by coupling designed protein charge separation constructs with newly developed photonic metamaterials -- metaldielectric composites that control light in ways not possible with traditional optics. To accomplish this, we have assembled a team of laboratories who are each at the forefront of the new technologies necessary in its construction -- de novo protein design Koder, nanoplasmonic metamaterials Crouse and protein film voltammetry Elliott. We start with bio-inspired artificial protein domains designed to generate biofuels when modularly connected to enzyme domains directly derived from nature. The designed protein domain serves as a self-assembling smart matrix incorporating synthetic zinc phthalocyanine ZnPC cofactors and porphyrins tailored for photon absorption, charge separation and directional chargehole transfer. The designed charge separation domain will be benignly expressed in bacteria as a chimera with naturally occurring protein domains which utilize the high energy electrons supplied by the charge separation domain to generate biofuels. This domain will be attached to a novel metamaterial light harvesting template which traps and concentrates 95 of the light of a given wavelength into a cavity within a five wavelength radius. This solid state light harvesting device is thus over three orders of magnitude more effective than that found in green plants for light of 750 nm wavelength, the solar emission maximum. Furthermore, the properties of metamaterials open the door towards creating a multijunction device capable of separating white light into discrete wavelength ranges and trapping it efficiently into different, separately wired cavities. The protein-metamaterial contacts will be mediated by a novel click chemistry attachment strategy which utilizes in vivo incorporation of azidohomoalanine into the designed protein domain.

Subject Categories:

  • Biochemistry
  • Non-electrical Energy Conversion
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Fiber Optics and Integrated Optics

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