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Proceedings Paper

Light-harvesting host-guest antenna materials for solar energy conversion devices
Author(s): Stefan Huber; Gion Calzaferri
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Paper Abstract

In natural photosynthesis, light is absorbed by photonic antenna systems consisting of a few hundred chlorophyll molecules. These devices allow fast energy transfer from an electronically excited molecule to an unexcited neighbour molecule in such a way that the excitation energy reaches the reaction centre with high probability. Trapping occurs there. The anisotropic arrangement of the chlorophyll molecules is important for efficient energy migration. In natural antennae the formation of aggregates is prevented by fencing the chlorophyll molecules in polypeptide cages. A similar approach is possible by enclosing dyes inside a microporous material and by choosing conditions such that the cavities are able to uptake only monomers but not aggregates. In most of our experiments we have been using zeolite L as a host because it was found to be very versatile. Its crystals are of cylindrical shape and consist of an extended one-dimensional tube system. They can be prepared in wide size range. We have filled the individual tubes with successive chains of different dye molecules and we have shown that photonic antenna materials can be prepared. Moreover, fluorescent dye molecules can be bound covalently to the channel entrances. Dependent on the spectral properties of these stopcock molecules, the electronic excitation energy is transported radiationless to the stopcock fixed at the ends of the nanochannels or injected from the stopcock to the dyes inside the zeolite. The radiationless energy migration is in competition with spontaneous emission, thermal deactivation, quenching, and photochemically induced degradation. Fast energy migration is therefore crucial for an efficient antenna material. - The supramolecular organization of the dyes inside the channels is a first stage of organization. It allows light harvesting within the volume of a dye-loaded zeolite L crystal and radiationless transport to both ends of the cylinder or from the ends to the centre. The second stage of organization is the coupling to an external acceptor or donor stopcock fluorophore at the ends of the zeolite L channels, which can trap or inject electronic excitation energy. The third stage of organization is the coupling to an external device via a stopcock intermediate. The wide-ranging tunability of these highly organized materials offers fascinating new possibilities for exploring excitation energy transfer phenomena, and challenges for developing new photonic devices for solar energy conversion and storage.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 May 2006
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 6197, Photonics for Solar Energy Systems, 619708 (12 May 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.661153
Show Author Affiliations
Stefan Huber, Univ. of Bern (Switzerland)
Gion Calzaferri, Univ. of Bern (Switzerland)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6197:
Photonics for Solar Energy Systems
Andreas Gombert, Editor(s)

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