Light is a convenient source of energy and the heart of light-harvesting natural systems and devices. Here, we show light-modulation of both the chemical nature and ionic charge carrier concentration within a protein-based biopolymer that was covalently functionalized with photoacids or photobases. We explore the capability of the biopolymer-tethered photoacids and photobases to undergo excited-state proton transfer and capture, respectively. Electrical measurements show that both the photoacid- and photobase-functionalized biopolymers exhibit an impressive light-modulated increase in ionic conductivity. Whereas cationic protons are the charge carriers for the photoacid-functionalized biopolymer, water-derived anionic hydroxides are the suggested charge carriers for the photobase-functionalized biopolymer. Our work introduces a versatile toolbox to photomodulate both protons and hydroxides as charge carriers in polymers, which can be of interest for a variety of applications.
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