Solar cell technology is marching ahead, though it still struggles with the two problems: efficiency and high production costs. In collaboration with Satoshi Uchida at the University of Tokyo, Michael Grätzel and his research group at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have now developed new sensitizers that should help an inexpensive type of solar cell to be more efficient. As they report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the sensitizers are based on the dye indoline.
Some years ago, Grätzel developed photoelectrochemical solar cells that are inexpensive, easy to produce, and able to withstand long exposure to light and heat. These "Grätzel cells" contain a mesoscopic layer of titanium oxide (TiO2) particles coated with a sensitizing dye. Upon irradiation with light, electrons are injected from the dye adsorbed on the TiO2, which are then transferred to the conducting band of the TiO2 and collected at the back contact, and carried away by an external circuit. In order for the cell to work, the electrons that are injected into the TiO2 must not recombine with the oxidized dye.
To prevent this, the cell contains an electrolyte solution with negatively charged iodide and triiodide ions as a redox couple dissolved in a solvent, which immediately reduce the holes created in the dye. The main disadvantage of using volatile organic solvent in the electrolyte is the need for encapsulation of the electrolyte. Ionic liquids are an alternative to the use of these volatile solvent. These salts exist as liquids at low temperatures and do not evaporate. However, the high viscosity of these electrolytes is detrimental to the mass transport and consequently a problem for obtaining high efficiency.
Grätzel and his team compensated for this loss of efficiency by optimizing the sensitizer. In place of the usual ruthenium dyes, they used tailor-made organic dyes based on indoline, which have a higher molar extinction coefficient. This allows the TiO2 films to be thinner, in turn reducing the electron path length. The combination thus attained an energy conversion yield of 7.2 %. This is a record for this type of cell (organic dye, ionic liquid, titanium oxide).
In this case the efficiency of the dye as a sensitizer is not only dependent on its chromophore, but also on its interfacial properties. So using a dye with an additional hydrocarbon chain has improved the performance by retarding the back electron reaction.
Author: Michael Grätzel, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), http://lpi.epfl.ch/
Title: Organic Dye-Sensitized Ionic Liquid Based Solar Cells: Remarkable Enhancement in Performance through Molecular Design of Indoline Sensitizers
Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2008, 47, No. 10, 1923–1927, doi: 10.1002/anie.200705225
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences