Prolonged and highly efficient intracellular extraction of photosynthetic electrons from single algal cells by optimized nanoelectrode insertion

Hyeonaug Hong, Yong Jae Kim, Myungjin Han, Gu Yoo, Hyun Woo Song, Youngcheol Chae, Jae Chul Pyun, Arthur R. Grossman, Won Hyoung Ryu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Harvesting photosynthetic electrons (PEs) from plant or algal cells can be a highly efficient and environmentally friendly way of generating renewable energy. Recent work on nanoelectrode insertion into algal cells has demonstrated the possibility to directly extract PEs from living algal cells with high efficiencies. However, the instability of the inserted cells limits the practicality of this technology. Here, the impact of nanoelectrode insertion on intracellular extraction of PEs is characterized with the goal of stabilizing algal cells after nanoelectrode insertion. Using nanoelectrodes <500 nm in diameter, algal cells remained stable for over one week after insertion and continued to provide PEs through direct extraction by the inserted nanoelectrodes. After nanoelectrode insertion, a photosynthetic current density of 6 mA·cm−2, which is several fold higher than the current densities attained using approaches based on isolated thylakoid membranes or photosystem I complexes, was observed in the dark and during illumination at various light intensities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-409
Number of pages13
JournalNano Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the financial supports by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) of Korea government (No. 2011-0020285) as well as by the Center for Advanced Meta-Materials (CAMM) funded by the MSIP as Global Frontier Project (No. CAMM-2014M3A6B3063716). The authors thank Jae Hyung Yun at Yonsei University for the help with fabrication of glass micropipettes. The contribution of A. R. G. was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences (No. DE–SC0001060) and the National Science Foundation (No. MCB–0951094) Electronic Supplementary Material : Supplementary material (configuration of horizontally-tilted cantilever nanoelectrode system and the estimation of activated area of electrode) is available in the online version of this article at

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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