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Raoul Frese, born Amsterdam 1969, studied physics at the University of Amsterdam and received his PhD at the VU University Amsterdam, supervisor Rienk van Grondelle. After a postdoc at the Twente University (nanobiophysics), he received a young investigator grant from the dutch science foundation (NWO-veni) to carry out his own research at the biophysics group at Leiden University. Frese became a research associate in the lab of Bob Niederman at Rutgers University (NJ, USA). After receiving an experienced investigator grant from NWO (Vidi) he and family returned to Amsterdam. At the VU University he has currently established his workgroup biohybrid solar cells where he and his team investigate the possibilities to interconnect photosynthetic materials to (semi-)conducting substrates for biosensors and solar energy harvesting. Next to this, Frese actively investigates a new transdisciplinary research methodology, called artscience, in collaboration with artists and designers.


Me and co-workers develop protocols for high resolution imaging of photosynthetic membranes. We generalise and select the correct AFM image from ensemble polarized spectroscopy measurements on intact membranes. Similar studies on mutants lacking one or two protein components lead to a detailed description of the supramolecular organization and packing effects within these membranes. That work lead to a general thermodynamic description of protein domain formation. Simulations based on colloidal theory show how membrane curvature is dependent on domain formation and how diffusive networks can be generated under packed conditions. Our control of photosynthetic membranes now extends beyond the cell, we can adhere membranes onto conducting surfaces and probe primary photoconversion reactions and cycle currents. As a first technology we investigate photosynthesis based biosensors for the detection of herbicides which target the reaction centers resulting in a disruption of photocurrent in an electrochemical cell.


  • Master track coordinator Science for Energy and Sustainability - physics, joint degree Universiteit van Amsterdam - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Dynamics Of Biomolecules and Cells
  • Biosolar Cells
  • Current Sustainable Energy Technologies
  • Innovation Project: Alternative Fuels

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Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy


  • Q Science
  • photosynthesis
  • biophysics
  • electrochemistry
  • atomic force microscopy
  • applied photosynthesis
  • N Fine Arts
  • artscience
  • Artist networks
  • artist initiatives


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