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Science & Technology

Scientists turn gold to purple

By T.K. Randall
January 28, 2011 · Comment icon 17 comments

Image Credit: CC 2.0 Aram Dulyan
A new way to harvest energy from sunlight has been found as gold turns purple in a new experiment.
Professor Richard Watt and his students have found a new way to harvest energy from sunlight by using a common protein. In their experiments, they mixed citric acid with the protein and added dissolved gold powder. After being exposed to sunlight for roughly 20 minutes, the solution turned purple, showing that the gold had been 'donated' electrons. The gold atoms used this energy to bunch together, forming purple colored nanoparticles. This reaction signalled that the protein had used the sunlight to excite the molecules in the citric acid, creating a transfer of energy. The discovery could potentially be used as a new 'green' energy source.
Professor Richard Watt and his chemistry students suspected that a common protein could potentially react with sunlight and harvest its energy -- similar to what chlorophyll does during photosynthesis.


Source: Science Daily | Comments (17)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by Belial 13 years ago
Just add blue and red
Comment icon #9 Posted by sepulchrave 13 years ago
This. I'm really excited to see solar powered energy using organic molecules instead of metals and could be more cost effective. Absolutely. Photosensitive organics are very cheap to make. The real hurdles are in attaching electrodes to the organics, and finding organics that are stable after prolonged exposure to light. I believe there are several candidate molecules that are stable, I think the biggest problem is finding a means of having the molecules precipitate from a solution to form a self-ordered layer on a suitable substrate (gold, silicon, aluminum, etc.).
Comment icon #10 Posted by the L 13 years ago
Absolutely. Photosensitive organics are very cheap to make. The real hurdles are in attaching electrodes to the organics, and finding organics that are stable after prolonged exposure to light. I believe there are several candidate molecules that are stable, I think the biggest problem is finding a means of having the molecules precipitate from a solution to form a self-ordered layer on a suitable substrate (gold, silicon, aluminum, etc.). Can you translate that? I was waiting for you response to be truth but I dont follow you. Please be kind and explain us amateurs in simple language. Maybe t... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by Mac E 13 years ago
Basically if you take a polymer (a long string of molecules) and try to pack them really close together, it usually won't work out well. In order to increase the solar efficiency they need as many of the protein on a flat surface as possible. So stand them upright and crowd them together.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Thesantanafan 13 years ago
Purple gold? Good lord, the rappers will go ape sh** over this!
Comment icon #13 Posted by sepulchrave 13 years ago
Can you translate that? I was waiting for you response to be truth but I dont follow you. Please be kind and explain us amateurs in simple language. Maybe thats because my english is not so well. I dont know. It is fairly easy to get organic molecules to absorb light and make electricity. But usually these molecules are floating around in water or something. For a usable solar cell, we need the molecules arranged so they dump the electricity into some conducting wire or surface. This is the challenge of ``attaching an electrode''. Because these molecules are so small, you can't stick a wire in... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by Copasetic 13 years ago
It is fairly easy to get organic molecules to absorb light and make electricity. But usually these molecules are floating around in water or something. For a usable solar cell, we need the molecules arranged so they dump the electricity into some conducting wire or surface. This is the challenge of ``attaching an electrode''. Because these molecules are so small, you can't stick a wire into them. What people mostly do is try to figure out how to get the molecules to stick to a surface (like a piece of metal). This is pretty easy as well. The trick is to make sure that the light absorbing end o... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by patrickjury 13 years ago
Why dont they layer it into a film and so become able to make into a wearable suit,and we could all walk around with our everlasting power supply,unless it rains.
Comment icon #16 Posted by sepulchrave 13 years ago
Why dont they layer it into a film and so become able to make into a wearable suit,and we could all walk around with our everlasting power supply,unless it rains. Well ``they'' would do that, if they could properly assemble a stable organic photovoltaic molecule layer on a flexible, stable, and durable conducting substrate. And ``they'' are definitely trying. (``They'' being the physicists, chemists, engineers, etc. doing this sort of research.) It is definitely a very exciting field of study though. I was at a photonics conference last week and managed to hear a talk where a group in Portugal... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by Copasetic 13 years ago
--------- Copa: I don't know much about the bio side of the field, but I really hope there is active research into using microbes and such in optoelectronics. It seems to me that nature is the ultimate ``self assembler'' and there is no point in reinventing the wheel. There is, I've got to witness some of it in another life. The problem right now is really twofold though. The limitation of our ability to program genetically (which is actually quickly being solved) and the larger problem of predicting tertiary protein structure from analogous DNA code. Turns out proteomics was a lot more compli... [More]


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