Investigation on Functionalized Ruthenium-Based Sensitizers to Enhance Performance and Robustness of Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

It has been increasingly aware to the world today that reserves of fossil fuels are limited and their use has serious environmental side effects. Encouraged by this realization was the evolution of the use of cleaner alternative energy, among which Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) are potentially attractive candidates for the lower cost of producing devices which convert an abundant amount of energy from the sun into electricity. Dye-sensitizer in DSCs plays a crucial role as the chlorophyll in plants; to harvest solar light and transfer the energy via electron transfer to a suitable material (TiO2 in this case) to produce electricity. The topic of interest for this thesis is to further enhance the photovoltaic performance and the robustness of DSCs by tuning the optical properties of the dye-sensitizer (Ruthenium complex, in this case) using several strategies including an extension of the π-conjugation system, an introduction of antenna molecules and a modification of the Ru-complex structure. This work focuses on the DSC device fabrication and photovoltaic characterization in order to investigate more insight into structure-property-device performance relationship. New benchmarks for high performance DSCs with ruthenium complex sensitizers with π-extension in their ancillary ligands were presented. The overall conversion efficiency of 9.6% and 8.5% have been achieved with Ru-based sensitizer containing ethylenedioxythiophene, using low-volatile electrolyte and solvent-free electrolyte, respectively. The Rusensitizer functionalized with hexylthio-bithiophene unit exhibited a conversion efficiency of 9.4% with low-volatile electrolyte. All these devices showed good stability under prolonged light soaking at 60 °C. Extending π-conjugation of the anchoring ligand with thiophene units in monoleptic Ru-sensitizer also yields an impressive conversion efficiency of 6.1% using 3-µm-thin mesoporous TiO2 film in corporate with low-volatile electrolyte. DSC devices based on ruthenium sensitizers functionalized with thienothiophene- and EDOT-conjugated bridge, together with carbazole moiety on the ancillary ligands were found efficient with conversion efficiencies of 9.4% and 9.6%, respectively, in presence of a volatile electrolyte. The carbazole-functionalized ruthenium-based DCSs also performed excellently in the stability test using a low-volatile electrolyte. Furthermore, the Ru-complexes synthesized by click-chemistry in association with triazole-derivative moieties were successfully used as DCS sensitizers. DSC devices sensitized with these dyes provided the overall conversion efficiency close to 10% with volatile electrolyte. Further studies with solvent-free electrolyte showed notable device stability under extending full sunlight intensity at 60 °C. The results presented here provide a fertile base for further investigation, which will focus on improving the spectral response of ruthenium dye-sensitizer to full sunlight by searching for new strategies to modify the sensitizer with more efficient functional groups. The target is to reach higher conversion efficiency of DSC devices while retaining their stability under standard reporting conditions.

Grätzel, Michael
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis5376-8

 Record created 2012-05-22, last modified 2018-03-17

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