Date of Graduation

12-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Microelectronics-Photonics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

Jiali Li

Committee Member

Ingrid Fritsch

Second Committee Member

Hameed Naseem

Third Committee Member

Ken Vickers

Keywords

Artificial photosynthesis, Bacteriorhodopsin, Biosolar cell, Lipid membranes, Photocurrent, Protein membrane

Abstract

The objective of this work was to conduct basic research in biologically inspired energy conversion solutions. A photosynthetic protein (Bacteriorhodopsin) was reconstituted in a bi-layer membrane. Then, when a laser beam was shined on the membrane, the photon energy was used by the protein to pump protons across the membrane. The translocation of protons across the membrane was measured as photocurrent. For this purpose, a system was built to characterize the lipid bilayer membranes and to measure the photocurrent. The lipid bilayer membrane was characterized by its capacitance and resistance. A picoampere photocurrent was observed when Bacteriorhodopsin protein was present in the bilayer membrane and a 532 nm laser was used as light source. The obtained values were consistent with the reports from literature. An introduction to the generation of photocurrent by photosynthetic proteins in lipid membranes was reviewed and their applications are discussed in this thesis.