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BIOINSPIRED MATERIALS FOR SOLAR ENERGY UTILIZATION

Sunlight is the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the Sun. The elementary particles of sunlight (photons), depending on their corresponding wavelength (mainly in the areas of the infrared, the visible and the ultraviolet) cover a range of different actions. When they impinge on the molecules of a chromophore material, depending on their energy, they are either reflected, or they permeate it, or finally they are absorbed by them.

The absorption of photons causes displacement of the electron density of the chromophore materials and generates electricity. one of the most advanced technologies in electricity generation but also in hydrogen production based in this process of the solar energy conversion.

The Laboratory of Bioinorganic Chemistry of the University of Crete received important funding in 2008 for conducting research in the synthesis and the characterization of new hybrid, chromophore materials that can be applied to conversion processes of solar energy. The design of these materials is based on the corresponding processes used in nature (photosynthesis).

Electricity from the Sun

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION AT THE LABORATORY OF BIOINORGANIC CHEMISTRY

The production of solar cells which make use of chromophore materials as photosensitizers (of the DSSC type: Dye Sensitized Solar Cells) is an innovative approach in the technology of photovoltaic sources. The research team of the Laboratory of Bioinorganic Chemistry has developed a particular activity in the synthesis of new hybrid chromophore materials to be used in DSSC. Such materials have also been used by the research team in hydrogen production processes.

Typical example of such materials is a new chromophore-protein hybrid system that performs fast electron transfer under the influence of sunlight as well as a chromophore-amino acid hybrid system (Biphenylalanine), with the ability of self-organization. Both examples have been submitted for corresponding patents.

The novelty of these materials is the low cost compared to the existing in the international literature, the good performance in electricity generation and the total lack of pollution, since it derives from chromophoric substances met in nature. They also provide developmental (20 times more employability in comparison to the use of lignite for the same electricity generation) as well as environmental benefits (an average photovoltaic frame is equivalent to ten trees whereas a square metre of photovoltaic amounts to 200 m2 of forest).

SIGNIFICANT FUNDING

The Laboratory of Bioinorganic Chemistry of the University of Crete was funded with the amount of 1,000,000€ (7th framework, Regional Potential) in 2008, for further research in the synthesis and the comprehensive characterization of new hybrid materials that can be applied to conversion processes of solar energy.

In 2011 and 2012 was funded by the State Scholarships Foundation for the organization of two summer schools on subjects: "from chemistry to biology & medicine via metals" http://www.chemistry.uoc.gr/biointensive (04-16 July 2011) and "Bioinspired Materials for Solar Energy Utilization" http://www.chemistry.uoc.gr/bimasouti (09-21 July 2012).

In 2010, in the framework of the project "Heraklitus II University of Crete" of the Operational Programme "Education and Lifelong Learning 2007-2013" of NSRF (2007 - 2013), two PhD candidates further received excellence scholarships.

UNIVERSITY OF CRETE

Coutsolelos Athanasios (Professor), Zervaki Galatia, Christina Staggel.

Laboratory of Bioinorganic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, School of Sciences and Engineering.

www.biosolenuti.gr http://www.uoc.gr/