Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID


Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Life Sciences

Major Professor

Barry D. Bruce

Committee Members

Gladys Alexandre, Paul Frymier, Michael D. Vaughn


The world’s energy demands are projected to increase by nearly 50% by the year 2040, and consumption of carbon-based fuels continues to release greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. This has been causally linked with climate change and increased extreme weather events, which has been further linked to adverse health outcomes and negative effects on biodiversity, food security, and increased disease transmission. Clearly, there is a need for a sustainable, carbon-free, and cost-effective method of energy production to meet growing energy production demands. The sun irradiates Earth’s surface annually with ~80,000 terawatts (TW), making solar energy conversion (photovoltaics) a probable part of any plan to meet our growing needs. The biological process of photosynthesis is responsible for the annual generation of ~ 130 TW of energy through solar energy conversion to drive essentially all primary production on Earth. Photosynthesis does so with widely available elements and with a quantum efficiency approaching unity, both of which are challenges to current commercially available photovoltaic devices. The growing field of applied photosynthesis hopes to utilize the biological process of photosynthesis to help meet these growing energy demands through the development of bio-hybrid electronic and photovoltaic devices. The study of the bio-inorganic interface in these devices remains one of the largest areas for improving the outputs and efficiencies of these devices while simultaneously allowing for more detailed insight into fundamental biological photosynthetic processes.

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