Biohybrid Solar Cells

A biohybrid solar cell is a solar cell which is made by combining an organic matter (photosystem I) and inorganic matter. Biohybrid solar cells were first made by researchers at the Vanderbilt University. The team recreated the natural process of photosynthesis using the photosystem I (which is the photoactive protein complex that is located in the thylakoid membrane) to be able to obtain a higher conversion efficiency of solar energy than normal PV cells. The biohybrid solar cells are considered a new form of renewable energy.

How biohybrid solar cells work?

Several layers of photosystem I convert the collected photonic energy into chemical energy, and create a current that passes through the cell. The cell is composed of the same non organic materials used in normal solar cells with the exception of injected complexes of photosystem I which are introduced and collected in the gold layer for several days. After days the photosytem I becomes visible and is seen as a green thin film. This green thin film aids and improves energy conversion process. The biohybrid cell is still in the research stage.

How biohybrid solar cells are different?

Biohybrid solar cells are not the same as conventional solar cells. Both of them convert solar radiation into electrical energy. Yet,  the concept of operation is entirely different and so is the end product. PV cells produce electric current while biohybrid cells produce biomass or chemical fuels since photosynthesis is involved in the process.

Advantages of biohybrid solar cells

The biohybrid solar cell has many advantages due to the way it converts solar energy to electrical energy as the efficiency of the process is considered nearly 100 %. This is because nearly no power is lost through the conversion of chemical energy to electrical power. The efficiency is really high in comparison with the 40% efficiency of traditional pv cells. Cost for producing biohybrid cells is a lot cheaper since extracting the protein from plants is cheap in comparison to the cost of metals required for solar cell production.

Disadvantages of biohybrid solar cells

Biohybrid cells have some cons as well. First, more power is produced by normal solar cells than currently achievable by biohybrid cells. Second, the lifespan of the biohybrid solar cells is much shorter, ranging from a few weeks to only nine months. Also, the durability of the cells can be an issue in comparison to current solar cells that can operate for long periods without any problems.
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