Greener Solar Power With Help From Bacteria

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Research is still in the early phases, but tests have shown that the protein appeared to be stable and functional under testing conditions in incident sunlight. “This type of research has not been done before, where you have a biodegradable or environmentally friendly component inside a solar cell,” said Perera. “We have also synthesized a new dye which is less toxic than the dyes normally used in dye-sensitized cells,” she added.

Perera lab

image via Kansas State University

At the ninth annual Capitol Graduate Research Summit in Topeka this year, she won a $500 scholarship and a chance to present her poster, “Design of a ‘Greener’ Solar Cell using Mycobacterial Protein MspA,” at the KansasBio Board of Director’s meeting in May.

“We know that fossil fuels are going to run out in the very near future,” Perera said in a Kansas State University news release. “Kansas is getting a reputation as one of the central places in the U.S. for alternative energy research because of the abundance of sunlight and wind. I want to contribute to that and to the betterment of humanity with this research.”

Based in New York City, Leah Jones is a freelance writer with undergraduate degrees in criminal justice and forensic science. She has worked on research in the toxicology field for several years, and she brings her passion for science into the realm of green technology with EarthTechling. Leah has studied English at the graduate level and has authored or co-authored over 30 publications in scientific journals. When she's not writing, Leah enjoys playing music with her husband and teaching music to New York City kids.