Photoelectrochemical studies of dye-sensitized solar cells using organic dyes

Abstract: The dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC) is a promising efficient low-cost molecular photovoltaic device. One of the key components in DSCs is the dye, as it is responsible for the capture of sunlight. State-of-the-art DSC devices, based on ruthenium dyes, show record efficiencies of 10-12 %. During the last decade, metal-free organic dyes have been extensively explored as sensitizers for DSC application. The use of organic dyes is particularly attractive as it enables easy structural modifications, due to fairly short synthetic routes and reduced material cost. Novel dye should in addition to the light-harvesting properties also be compatible with the DSC components. In this thesis, a series of new organic dyes are investigated, both when integrated in the DSC device and as individual components. The evaluation methods consisted of different electrochemical and photoelectrochemical techniques. Whereas the light-harvesting properties of the dyes were fairly easily improved, the behavior of the dye integrated in the DSC showed less predictable photovoltaic results. The dye series studied in Papers II and IV revealed that their dye energetics limited vital electron-transfer processes, the dye regeneration (Paper II) and injection quantum yield (Paper IV). Further, in Papers III-VI, it was observed that different dye structures seemed to alter the interfacial electron recombination with the electrolyte. In addition to the dye structure sterics, some organic dyes appear to enhance the interfacial recombination, possibly due to specific dye-redox acceptor interaction (Paper V). The impact of dye sterical modifications versus the use of coadsorbent was explored in Paper VI. The dye layer properties in the presence and absence of various coadsorbents were further investigated in Paper VII. The core of this thesis is the identification of the processes and properties limiting the performance of the DSC device, aiming at an overall understanding of the compatibility between the DSC components and novel organic dyes.

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