Efficient dye regeneration at low driving force achieved in triphenylamine dye LEG4 and TEMPO redox mediator based dye-sensitized solar cells
Minimizing the driving force required for the regeneration of oxidized dyes using redox mediators in an electrolyte is essential to further improve the open-circuit voltage and efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). Appropriate combinations of redox mediators and dye molecules should be explored to achieve this goal. Herein, we present a triphenylamine dye, LEG4, in combination with a TEMPO-based electrolyte in acetonitrile (E-0 = 0.89 V vs. NHE), reaching an efficiency of up to 5.4% under one sun illumination and 40% performance improvement compared to the previously and widely used indoline dye D149. The origin of this improvement was found to be the increased dye regeneration efficiency of LEG4 using the TEMPO redox mediator, which regenerated more than 80% of the oxidized dye with a driving force of only similar to 0.2 eV. Detailed mechanistic studies further revealed that in addition to electron recombination to oxidized dyes, recombination of electrons from the conducting substrate and the mesoporous TiO2 film to the TEMPO+ redox species in the electrolyte accounts for the reduced short circuit current, compared to the state-of-the-art cobalt tris(bipyridine) electrolyte system. The diffusion length of the TEMPO-electrolyte based DSSCs was determined to be similar to 0.5 mu m, which is smaller than the similar to 2.8 mu m found for cobalt-electrolyte based DSSCs. These results show the advantages of using LEG4 as a sensitizer, compared to previously record indoline dyes, in combination with a TEMPO-based electrolyte. The low driving force for efficient dye regeneration presented by these results shows the potential to further improve the power conversion efficiency (PCE) of DSSCs by utilizing redox couples and dyes with a minimal need of driving force for high regeneration yields.