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: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Siemens to supply 126 megawatts to onshore wind power plants in Scotland

27.11.2015 | Press release

Two decades of training students and experts in tracking infectious disease

27.11.2015 | Life Sciences

Coming to a monitor near you: A defect-free, molecule-thick film

27.11.2015 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>