Quantum dot-sensitized solar cells based on directly adsorbed zinc copper indium sulfide colloids
Heavy metal-based quantum dots (QDs) have been demonstrated to behave as efficient sensitizers in QD-sensitized solar cells (QDSSCs), as attested by the countless studies and encouraging efficiencies reported so far. However, their intrinsic toxicity has arisen as a major issue for the prospects of commercialization. Here, we examine the potential of environmentally friendly zinc copper indium sulfide (ZCIS) QDs for the fabrication of liquid-junction QDSSCs by means of photoelectrochemical measurements. A straightforward approach to directly adsorb ZCIS QDs on TiO2 from a colloidal dispersion is presented. Incident photon-to-current efficiency (IPCE) spectra of sensitized photoanodes show a marked dependence on adsorption time, with longer times leading to poorer performances. Cyclic voltammograms point to a blockage of the channels of the mesoporous TiO2 film by the agglomeration of QDs as the main reason for the decrease in efficiency. Photoanodes were also subjected to the ZnS treatment. Its effects on electron recombination with the electrolyte are analyzed through electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and photo-potential measurements. The corresponding results bring out the role of the ZnS coating as a barrier layer in preventing electron leakage toward the electrolyte, as argued in other QD-sensitized systems. The beneficial effect of the ZnS coating is ultimately reflected in the power conversion efficiency of complete devices, reaching values of 2%. In a more general vein, through these findings, we aim to call the attention to the potentiality of this quaternary alloy, virtually unexplored as a light harvester for sensitized devices.