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Microalgae for increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic cells

  Red Microalgae Due to their ability to capture and convert sunlight into energy, microalgae can survive millions of years of evolution in extreme environments

(Rinnovabili.it) – Tiny fluorescent organisms like those in the depths of the ocean Microalgae present could pave the way for a new generation of high-efficiency organic photovoltaic cells: This is a recent study by the University of Birmingham, published in the journal Chem.


Cyanobacteria and microalgae are probably the oldest living organisms on the planet: the survival of these tiny fluorescent algae is based on their extraordinary sunlight collection system, a series of small "receiving antennas" formed by protein compounds called phycobilisomes, Efficiency can reach a record of 95%. An evolutionary mechanism that allows microalgae to survive in environments with extreme conditions, such as ocean depths, and to adapt to the drastic changes that have occurred on Earth over the past millions of years.

The British research group, in collaboration with the University of Utrecht, used mass spectrometry to characterize the individual components of the microalgae solar collection system: The experiments identified the molecular conformation and the role of B-phycoerythrin, the major phycobiliprotein of P. Cruentum ̵

1; Red algae, as the main regulator of the organization of phycobilisomes, which allow the transmission of light and its conversion into energy.

>> Read also Sweden: Sea algae for increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic modules Aneika Leney, one of the main authors of the study at the School of Biotechnology of the University of Birmingham – If we apply this knowledge, can we begin to make real progress adapting these systems for use in solar panels? "

" We suspect the algae to be observing that they are something static and uninteresting – explains Professor Albert Heck, scientific director of the Dutch Proteomics Center at the University of Utrecht – But when we look at the molecular details of their organisms, which are able to convert sunlight into energy with such efficiency, we see how they are highly developed.

The research group must now focus on identifying the molecular structure that guarantees the efficiency of the light harvesting system of microalgae: "Given that most domestic photovoltaic modules operate in the UK with an efficiency of 10-20% – Conclusion of Dr. Leney – A range of up to 95% would drastically increase the use of solar energy and thus make an important contribution to the protection of the environment. "

>> Read also The fireflies inspire new highly efficient LEDs <<

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