Virus Enabled Self-assembly of Nanocomposites for Highly Efficient Photovoltaic Devices

Technology #14540

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Inventors
Professor Angela Belcher
MIT Department of Materials Sciences and Engineering and Department of Biological Engineering
External Link (web.mit.edu)
Professor Paula Hammond
MIT Department of Chemical Engineering
External Link (web.mit.edu)
Xiangnan Dang
MIT Department of Materials Sciences and Engineering
Hyunjung Yi
MIT Department of Materials Sciences and Engineering
Managed By
Christopher Noble
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Clean and Renewable Energy
Patent Protection

Biologically self-assembled nanotubes

US Patent 8,470,611

Biologically self-assembled nanotubes

US Patent 9,082,554
Publications
Synthesis of Highly Stable Sub-8 nm TiO2 Nanoparticles and Their Multilayer Electrodes of TiO2/MWNT for Electrochemical Applications
Nano Letters, 2013, 13 (10), 4610-4619
Virus-templated self-assembled single-walled carbon nanotubes for highly efficient electron collection in photovoltaic devices
Nature Nanotechnology, 6, 377–384 (2011

Applications

Virus enabled self-assembly of nanoparticles can be used for the fabrication of photoanodes to improve the efficiency of solar cells. In addition, this technology can be applied to existing dye-sensitized solar cells. 

Problem Addressed

Current photovoltaic devices have limited power conversion efficiency.The technology presented synthesizes single-walled carbon nanotubes by using a biological template method that does not affect electron transfer between TiO2 and SWCNT. Moreover, this technique takes hydrophobic interactions and pi-pi stacking into consideration when designing biological materials for SWCNT dispersion and stabilization, which was often ignored in previous reports. 

Technology

This invention develops a general approach to synthesize SWCNT/TiO2 complex in dye-sensitized solar cells by biological template self-assembly method, using a genetically engineered M13 virus. The nano-composited photoanodes for dye-sensitized solar cells are made by first optimizing the virus-SWCNT template through biomineralization of TiO2, This technology focuses on concentration and controls the binding between charged virus and SWCNTs through surface charge modification of the biological molecules. 

Advantages

  • The virus binds and stabilizes SWCNTs, hence no chemical modification needs to be done on SWCNTs and the high electron mobility of SWCNTs is preserved
  • It is showed that an improvement of power efficiency of solar cells from 8% to 10.3% is possible by incorporating only .2wt% SWCNTs
  • Maximizes the impact of sorted SWCNTs