Improving charge collection in Escherichia coli–carbon electrode devices with conjugated oligoelectrolytes

It is important to tailor biotic–abiotic interfaces in order to maximize the utility of bioelectronic devices such as microbial fuel cells (MFCs), electrochemical sensors and bioelectrosynthetic systems. The efficiency of electron-equivalent extraction (or injection) across such biotic–abiotic interfaces is dependent on the choice of the microbe and the conductive electrode material. In this contribution, we show that spontaneous intercalation of a conjugated oligoelectrolyte, namely 4,4′-bis(4′-(N,N-bis(6′′-(N,N,N-trimethylammonium)hexyl)amino)-styryl)stilbene tetraiodide (DSSN+), into the membranes of Escherichia coli leads to an increase in current generation in MFCs containing carbon-based electrodes. A combination of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and confocal microscopy was employed to confirm the incorporation of DSSN+ into the cell membrane and biofilm formation atop carbon felt electrodes. Current collection was enhanced by more than 300% with addition of this conjugated oligoelectrolyte. The effect of DSSN+ concentration on electrical output was also investigated. Higher concentrations, up to 25 μM, lead to an overall increase in the number of charge equivalents transferred to the charge-collecting electrode, providing evidence in support of the central role of the synthetic system in improving device performance.

V. B. Wang, J. Du, X. Chen, A. W. Thomas, N. D. Kirchhofer, L. E. Garner, M. T. Maw, W. H. Poh, J. Hinks, S. Wuertz, S. Kjelleberg, Q. Zhang, J. S. C. Loo, and G. C. Bazan
Volume: 15
Number: 16
Pages: 5867
Date: February, 2013
ICB Affiliated Authors: Guillermo C Bazan