We demonstrate that the direction of current rectification via one of nature’s most efficient light-harvesting systems, the photosystem 1 complex (PS1), can be controlled by its orientation on Au substrates. Molecular self-assembly of the PS1 complex using four different linkers with distinct functional head groups that interact by electrostatic and hydrogen bonds with different surface parts of the entire protein PS1 complex was used to tailor the PS1 orientation. We observe an orientation-dependent rectification in the current-voltage characteristics for linker/PS1 molecule junctions. Results of an earlier study using a surface two-site PS1 mutant complex having its orientation set by covalent binding to the Au substrate supports our conclusion. Current-voltage-temperature measurements on the linker/PS1 complex indicate off-resonant tunneling as the main electron transport mechanism. Our ultraviolet photoemission spectroscopy results highlight the importance of the protein orientation for the energy level alignment and provide insight into the charge transport mechanism via the PS1 transport chain.
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