Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have measured the flow of solar energy in and between varied parts of a photosynthetic organism.
The project in expected to contribute to the development of solar energy technologies with improved efficiency when compared to that of current technologies.
Lund University science faculty Donatas Zigmantas said: “Not even the best solar cells that we as humans are capable of producing can be compared to what nature performs in the first stages of energy conversion.
“That is why new knowledge about photosynthesis will become useful for the development of future solar technologies.”
As part of a research, the team has explored the photosynthesis of bacterial cells.
The researchers used an ultrafast spectroscopy as part of the research and discovered that solar energy flows between the components of a photosynthetic cell.
Results from the research found that the transport of solar energy is better within, than between, varied cell components.
According to the researchers, the new discovery helps to illustrate the way the biological machinery is connected.
Since the flow of energy is restricted between the components, the efficiency of the whole photosynthetic energy conversion process is affected, the researchers said.
Zigmantas added: “We have identified the transport routes as well as the bottlenecks that cause congestion in the photosynthetic energy conversion. In the future, this knowledge can be used within solar cell technology.”
Further studies are required to be carried out on how energy is transported in both natural and artificial systems prior to implementing it.
Zigmantas noted that the results could provide the basis for the development and manufacturing of systems on a molecular level which can collect, store and transport sunlight to the solar cells.
Image: Researchers from Lund University used an ultrafast spectroscopy as part of the research project. Photo: courtesy of Lund University.