Phage-based Nanowire-Polymer Composites for Hybrid Photovoltaics
Organic- and polymer-based photovoltaics have been the focus of recent study due to inherent advantages afforded by such materials over their crystalline silicon counterparts - advantages such as mechanical flexibility and low-cost, large-area solution processing. One particularly researched approach is the bulk heterojunction in which an electron donating organic semiconductor is paired with an electron accepting semiconductor in a thin film heterojunction.
The present work aims to improve upon previous research by utilizing virus-mediated biotemplating to incorporate hybrid materials into new device architectures. Specifically, genetically engineered bacteriophage will template a range of inorganic electron accepting semiconductor nanowires. The use of high aspect ratio viruses will also enable this work to produce large area, three dimensional nanowire networks entirely through aqueous solution processing methods. Such nanowire networks will ultimately serve as a basis for hybrid organic-inorganic photovoltaic devices when combined with a suitable conjugated polymer.
(Left) Potential phage-based nanowire-polymer heterojunction. (Right) Schematic illustration of virus-based biotemplating of inorganic nanocrystals .
 C. Mao, et al., Science 303 (2004) 213.