The bR proteins and perovskite materials have similar electrical properties, or band gaps. By aligning these gaps, the scientists hypothesized they could achieve a better performance in perovskite solar cells through the FRET mechanism.
"Solar cells work by absorbing light energy, or photon molecules and creating electron-hole pairs," said Subhabrata Das, who participated in the research while a doctoral student at Columbia University. "By sending the electrons and holes in opposite directions, solar cells generate an electrical current that's turned into electricity."
Mixing the bR protein into perovskite solar cells helped electron-hole pairs better move through the devices, reducing recombination losses and boosting efficiency, the scientists said.
The findings could potentially have larger consequences, leading to the design of other hybrid devices in which artificial and biological materials work together, according to the researchers.