Enzymes are promising electrocatalysts for electron transfer (ET) in many biological processes. Strategies to enhance ET between enzymes and electroactive surfaces include orientation and immobilization of the enzymes and electron mediation. Here, we develop a strategy to couple orientation and electron mediation on electrodes based on carbon nanotubes. This is achieved by the synthesis of a redox mediator that contains an enzyme-orientation site (pyrene), an electron-carrier redox mediator (2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) (ABTS)) and an electropolymerizable monomer (pyrrole). The coupling of an enzymatic orientation and a mediated ET in the same chemical structure (pyrrole–ABTS–pyrene (pyrr–ABTS–pyr)) provides a much-improved performance in the bioelectrocatalysis. We demonstrate two fuel cells for the synthesized redox mediator. In a proton-exchange membrane hydrogen/air fuel cell and in a membraneless fuel cell, the pyrr–ABTS–pyr biocathode provides a power density of 1.07 mW cm−2 and 7.9 mW cm−2, respectively. The principle of coupling an enzyme orientation and a redox mediator allows a great variety of mediators to be engineered and provides vast possibilities for the development of fuel cells.
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This project is funded by the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore, under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) programme.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Elouarzaki, K., Cheng, D., Fisher, A.C. et al. Coupling orientation and mediation strategies for efficient electron transfer in hybrid biofuel cells. Nat Energy 3, 574–581 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-018-0166-4
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