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Hope on the horizon: Biosolar Cells

MIT faculty and researchers offer their thoughts on potentially life-altering
technologies that lie just around the corner.

Shuguang Zhang

Associate Director, Center for Biomedical Engineering

Among the most pressing challenges to civilization, nothing is greater than securing our energy future.

A low-cost and flexible biosolar energy nanodevice is one of the long-term solutions. Currently, solar cells are expensive and not affordable--even for the most-developed nations. Radical solutions must be found. Nature has already made efficient photosynthesis molecular nanomachines in thermophilic photosynthetic bacteria, algae and plants. We can isolate or emulate them to stabilize them in extended time onto inexpensive semiconducting nanostructured surface in extremely high density to directly harvest photons. This process must be simple, easy to follow and affordable even for developing nations. Our laboratory is developing the process for a decentralized or individualized system for a very low cost photovoltaic device: biosolar cells.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 21, 2008 (download PDF).

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