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Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability

Department of Physics


BSc in Physics, Berlin Institute of Technology (2012)
Systems biology group, Live Science College of the German Academic Foundation (2011-2013)
Research fellow at the J. Craig Venter Institute, Rockville (June – Sept. 2012)
MPhil in Physics, University of Cambridge (2013)


Understanding power output from photosynthetic microorganisms in biophotovoltaic systems

My research focuses on the investigation of extracellular electron exchange mechanisms in photosynthetic microorganisms (e.g., cyanobacteria and algae).  Prof. Howe’s group pioneered a ’biophotovoltaic’ (BPV) technology in which a biofilm of photosynthetic microorganisms associated with an anode produces electrical current. This technology is of great interest for sustainable and low-cost energy production as well as for environmentally friendly water desalination and production of organic compounds. In order to increase efficiency, the mechanisms in which the current leaves the algal cells have to be understood. Using Prof. Steiner’s and Optoelectronics’ group expertise in electrode design, material structuration and imaging, we aim to investigate the involvement of extracellular structures (e.g., matrix, filaments) and anode properties (e.g., material conductivities, band gap, surface chemistries, and surface topographies) on the electron transfer.

Winton Scholar
Supervisor: Prof Ullrich Steiner and Prof Christopher Howe
Biological and Soft Systems Group and Department of Biochemistry
Mr Tobias  Wenzel