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Energy Conversion

Professor David Cliffel (Chemistry) and Kane Jennings (Chemical Engineering) are exploring “self-assembly,” which is an important concept in the commercialization of nanoscale technology. The ability of molecules to organize or assemble themselves in prescribed ways makes nanoengineering feasible. Cliffel is exploring how both metal nanoparticles and proteins can self-assemble on electrodes. Metal nanoparticles can act as single-electron capacitors in electronics equipment, while the oriented, self-assembled proteins can act as nanoscale photodiodes and as active energy-conversion devices. 

“Recently we have used continuous flow electrophoresis to isolate larger quantities of monodisperse metal nanoparticles and, in collaboration with Professor Jennings, we have recently shown the ability to generate photocurrent from the energy conversion of Photosystem I proteins,” Cliffel says. “The ultimate goal is to chemically build up nanoscale electronic devices with size dimensions below 10 nanometers.”

Vanderbilt University