Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Malaysian and Taiwanese researchers make major advances in dye sensitized solar cells


Two groups of researchers have recently advanced the field of solar cells with a cheaper and efficient replacement for platinum and better synthesis of zinc oxide.

Working on dye-sensitized solar cells - researchers from University Malaya (UM) and National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) have achieved an efficiency of 1.12 %, at a fraction of the cost compared to those used by platinum devices. 

A set of figures illustrating the effect of applied voltage during electrolysis on the spacing between nanosheets (bottom) and the corresponding variations in electrical properties (top)

This work has been accepted for publication in the journal, Nanoscale published by the Royal Society of Chemistry and has been selected for the front cover of the issue.

The study carried out in Taiwan took on the challenge of making the technology behind dye-sensitized solar cells more affordable by replacing the costly platinum counter-electrodes with bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) nanosheet arrays.

Using a novel electrolysis process, the group managed to closely manipulate the spacing between individual nanosheets and hence control the thermal and electrical conductivity parameters to achieve the high efficiency of 1.12%, which is comparable to platinum devices, but at only at a fraction of the cost.

The research was led by Prof. Yu-Lun Chueh of the Nanoscience & Nanodevices Laboratory, NTHU, and Alireza Yaghoubi, UM HIR Young Scientist. “In light of the recent report by the United Nations about the irreversible effects of fossil fuels on climate change and as we gradually run out of economically recoverable oil reserves, we think it is necessary to look for a sustainable, yet practical source of energy” Yaghoubi stated. 

Meanwhile at University Malaya, Dr. Wee Siong Chiu and colleagues were working on controlling the secondary nucleation and self-assembly in zinc oxide (ZnO), a material which is currently being scrutinized for its potential applications in dye-sensitized solar cells as well as photocatalytic reactions to generate clean electricity by splitting water under sunlight. 

In this work, Dr. Chiu and Alireza Yaghoubi demonstrated a new route for synthesis of various zinc oxide nanostructures using the lipophilic interactions between a novel precursor and a number of fatty acids. They are hoping to further use this method to increase the efficiency of photocatalysts in the visible regime where most of the sunlight energy lies. 

According to the researchers, if this approach is successful, generating electricity is as easy as pouring some bioinert nanomaterials into a lake and fusing the split oxygen and hydrogen atoms back into water in a photoelectrochemical cell. 

This paper will be on the front cover of CrysEngComm, also published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.


The collaboration between UM and NTHU was set in motion after a visit by a delegate of distinguished scientists from NTHU to UM. The collaboration is aimed at tackling one of the most important challenges humankind is about to face in the coming decades. 

Renewable energies have been among trending research topics in recent years, however many of the related technologies are still in their infancy and are either very expensive or not sufficiently efficient for large-scale applications.

“This is only the beginning of a long-lasting collaboration between us”, Prof. Chueh remarked.

Yaghoubi and Chueh are at the moment working as a part of an international collaboration with universities in France and USA to find a viable substitute for two-dimensional materials such as graphene which have been difficult to use in large-scale industrial applications.

Journal information

1 Hung-Wei Tsai, Tsang-Hsiu Wang, Tsung-Cheng Chan, Pei-Ju Chen, Chih-Chun Chung, Chien-Neng Liao, Alireza Yaghoubi, Eric Wei-Guang Diau, and Yu-Lun Chueh. "Fabrication of Large Scale Single Crystal Bismuth Telluride (Bi2Te3) Nanosheet Arrays by Single Step Electrolysis Process." Nanoscale (2014). DOI: 10.1039/C4NR00184B

2 W.S. Chiu, A. Yaghoubi, M.Y. Chia, N.H. Khanis, S.A. Rahman, P.S. Khiew, and Y.L. Chueh. "Self-assembly and secondary nucleation in ZnO nanostructures derived from a lipophilic precursor." CrystEngComm (2014). DOI: 10.1039/C4CE00442F

Funding information

Dr. Chiu and Alireza Yaghoubi's work is funded by the HIR Grant UM.C/625/1/HIR/079

University of Malaya | Research SEA News
Further information:

Further reports about: DOI Taiwanese ZnO acids conductivity dye electricity electrolysis nanostructures nucleation platinum split sunlight zinc

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>