APACE - Towards a bio-mimetic sunlight pumped laser based on photosynthetic antenna complexes

Progetti europei
Programma di ricerca
EIC Pathfinder Challenges 2023
Ente finanziatore
European Commission
326.505 for the research unit
01/10/2024 - 30/09/2028
Painelli Anna

Aree / Gruppi di ricerca

Partecipanti al progetto

Descrizione del progetto

Creating new technologies towards long-term in space self-sustainability is essential to solve the problem of the increasing energy demand both in space and on Earth. Biology can provide the answer to this challenge, self-sustainability being the defining characteristic of life. APACE will demonstrate a novel type of bio-inspired sunlight pumped laser, based on photosynthetic complexes, that is capable of upgrading diffuse natural sunlight into a coherent laser beam. In the APACE core strategy, lasing units composed of engineered molecular systems or doped nanocrystals will be attached to a bacteria photosynthetic antenna complex to obtain an engineered photosynthetic antenna. The engineered antennae, dispersed in a polymeric matrix or in solution, will form a  upramolecular gain medium, which will be placed in an optical cavity to build a sunlight pumped laser. Bacterial photosynthetic complexes are nanoscale molecular structures with the unique ability to funnel the collected solar energy with almost 100% efficiency.

Exploiting these extraordinary properties, the APACE bio-inspired laser will be able to operate under unconcentrated sunlight, with at least two orders of magnitude enhanced efficiency over existing designs. APACE will thus lay the foundation for a novel solar harvesting technology that could ultimately be fabricated in situ on permanent space stations, and that may benefit from a similar scalability as photovoltaic panels. The collected energy can be used for in situ energy production (e.g. hydrogen generation) as well as for wireless power transmission to satellites or to Earth by infrared laser beams.

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