Chemically Functionalized Conjugated Oligoelectrolyte Nanoparticles for Enhancement of Current Generation in Microbial Fuel Cells

Water-soluble conjugated oligoelectrolyte nanoparticles (COE NPs), consisting of a cage-like polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxanes (POSS) core equipped at each end with pendant groups (oligo­(<i>p</i>-phenylenevinylene) electrolyte, OPVE), have been designed and demonstrated as an efficient strategy in increasing the current generation in Escherichia coli microbial fuel cells (MFCs). The as-prepared COE NPs take advantage of the structure of POSS and the optical properties of the pendant groups, OPVE. Confocal laser scanning microscopy showed strong photoluminescence of the stained cells, indicating spontaneous accumulation of COE NPs within cell membranes. Moreover, the electrochemical performance of the COE NPs is superior to that of an established membrane intercommunicating COE, DSSN+ in increasing current generation, suggesting that these COE NPs thus hold great potential to boost the performance of MFCs.