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Turning Light into Current in Molecular Arrays with Plasmons
Investigators in the Nano/Bio Interface Center at the University of Pennsylvania have demonstrated a new mechanism for turning light into electrical current in porphyrin molecules. They fabricated an array of gold metal nanoparticles and linked them with special light-sensitive porphyrins. The plasmons at the surface of the nanoparticles focus the light to the junction where the molecules are connected. The plasmon effect increases the efficiency of current production in the molecule by a factor of 4-20 (400% to 2000%) that is then transported through the network to the outside world.
Surface plasmons are being engineered into a variety of light activated devices such as biosensors and optical circuits. This is the first time that plasmons have induced current in molecules. The action is similar to that of solar cells and may provide an approach for higher efficiency energy harvesting devices.
This research represents a collaborative effort with researchers at Duke University and the University of Maryland. Results were published in ACS Nano on January 26, 2010.
About Nano/Bio Interface Center at the University of Pennsylvania
Nano/Bio Interface Center at the University of Pennsylvania is a Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC) bringing together researchers from the Schools of Engineering and Applied Science; Arts and Sciences; and Medicine. The NBIC exploits Penn's internationally recognized strengths in design of molecular function and quantification of individual molecules. The Center unites investigators from ten departments to provide, not only new directions for the life sciences, but also for engineering in a two-way flow essential to fully realizing the benefits of nano-biotechnology.
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