The efficiency of a photovoltaic device is limited by the portion of solar energy that can be captured. We discuss how to measure the optical properties of the various layers in solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells (SDSC). We use spectroscopic ellipsometry to determine the complex refractive index of each of the various layers in a SDSC. Each of the ellipsometry fits is used to calculate a transmission spectrum that is compared to a measured transmission spectrum. The complexities of pore filling on the fitting of the ellipsometric data are discussed. Scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy is shown to be an effective method for determining pore filling in SDSC layers. Accurate effective medium optical constants for each layer are presented and the material limits under which these optical constants can be used are discussed. (C) 2009 American Institute of Physics. [doi: 10.1063/1.3204982]