The technology offers a way to construct efficient photovoltaic cells
at a cost several hundred times less than conventional silicon based
devices, and with similar or better energy conversion efficiency.
The reactive elements are genetically engineered proteins using
photosynthesis for production of electrical energy.
Solar production of energy is the most convenient form of renewable
clean energy sources. The global market for solar cells was ~ $10.6
B in 2007 with a yearly growth rate of 35%. The current limit to
more widespread use of photovoltaic cells is their low efficiency and
high cost. Conventional silicon based devices have an efficiency of
only 15%, but cost several hundred times more. The production
of the photosynthetic photoactive protein PSI is simple and is
expected to yield 20% efficiency. A further advantage of PSI is its
transparency to infrared radiation obviating the need for expensive
We currently have proof-of-concept devices showing that the modified
protein is successfully active in converting photons to electrical energy.
In addition, the protein is able to bond to the electrodes to complete a
circuit. The cost of materials for manufacture is ~$1/m2 as compared
to ~$250/ m2 for conventional silicon based devices.
Our principal researchers:
Professor Chanoch Carmeli, Department of Biochemistry, Tel Aviv
University. Dr. Shachar Richter, Department of Chemistry, Tel Aviv
University. Professor Yossi Rosenwaks, Department of Physical
Electronics, Tel Aviv University. Dr. Itai Carmeli, Department of
Chemistry, Tel Aviv University.