Anna Salleh /ABC Science Online)
Monday, 4 September 2006
Synthetic molecules that mimic chlorophyll in plants may one day form the basis
of highly efficient solar cells, say Australian researchers. Professor Max Crossley's molecular
electronics group at the University of Sydney recently presented its research at the
International Conference on Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines in Rome.
"Nature has evolved this very efficient process, over millions of years, for harvesting
light and then converting it into energy," says Crossley. "We're trying to mimic aspects of
natural photosynthesis." Dense arrays of chlorophyll molecules in leaves are responsible
for converting light energy to electrical energy and then to chemical energy.
Critical to this function of chlorophyll is the pigment porphyrin, which is attached to a
central magnesium ion. Crossley and team have made a synthetic form of chlorophyll that
performs the first part of that process, converting light energy to electrical energy.
As in nature, when a large number of these synthetic molecules are arranged in a
dense array they act in concert to efficiently collect photons of light. "There has to be
a lot of them because if there was only one it would be a very inefficient process,"
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Posted by Kuppuswamy Kalyanasundaram on Friday 8 September 2006 at 10:22