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

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht New method increases energy density in lithium batteries
24.10.2016 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

nachricht 'Super yeast' has the power to improve economics of biofuels
18.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

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: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

New method increases energy density in lithium batteries

24.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

International team discovers novel Alzheimer's disease risk gene among Icelanders

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>