The objective of this proposal is to assess the feasibility of exploiting the unique optical properties of sub-microscopic photosynthetic structures known as chlorosomes for potential use in novel light-converting and light-detecting device applications. In natural form, chlorosomes serve as light-collecting antennas in some photosynthetic microorganisms which efficiently convert this energy into a form useful for the microorganism. In applied form, we will attempt to marry engineering and biology to take advantage of their unique molecular architecture and their efficient energy transfer processes for use in novel 'biohybrid' device applications where enhanced light-detection, and energy conversion and storage is desired. In this project, the photosynthesis team proposes to isolate and characterize chlorosome sub-units, in particular their ability to self-assemble, a property that may serve as the basis of novel enabling nanotechnologies that allow the design and fabrication of molecular-based optical materials, devices and systems. The bioengineering group proposes to assess the feasibility of designing an optical biomolecular hybrid device that incorporates chlorosome assemblies interfaced in programmed ways to selected light detectors and transducers to demonstrate the potential for enhanced device performance from using biohybrid approaches. The potential impact of the project is threefold. It can (a) contribute to the fundamental knowledge of the complex process of photosynthesis, (b) potentially lead to novel devices and systems that have a number of practical applications in areas such as microelectronics, biotechnology, medicine, and (c) further the NSF goal of integrating research and education, particularly across science and engineering disciplinary boundaries.

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Arizona State University
United States
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