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Solar cells more efficient than photosynthesis -- for now
Date:5/12/2011

More important are life-cycle costs, the capital cost and valuation of the environmental impact of a product from its creation to its destruction.

Still the comparison is useful because it's leading the exploration of why plants are so inefficient and what can be done to improve their efficiency. Genetic engineering and the more aggressive techniques of synthetic biology the marriage of biology and engineering to design and construct systems and metabolic pathways not found in nature could speed things up considerably.

The experts suggested, for example, replacing one of the two photosystems in plants that handle the light-dependent reactions with a photosystem from a species of cyanobacteria. The photosystems in most plants compete for the same piece of the solar spectrum, cutting the energy efficiency nearly in half. But some cyanobacteria absorb light from an entirely different part of the spectrum. Basically, it would be the biological equivalent of a tandem solar cell, which is very efficient.


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Contact: Layne Cameron
layne.cameron@ur.msu.edu
517-353-8819
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

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