Aqueous dye-sensitized solar cells
Nowadays, dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are the most extensively investigated systems for the conversion of solar energy into electricity, particularly for implementation in devices where low cost and good performance are required. Nevertheless, a key aspect is still to be addressed, being considered strongly harmful for a long time, which is the presence of water in the cell, either in the electrolyte or at the electrode/electrolyte interface. Here comes the present review, in the course of which we try our best to address the highly topical role of water in DSSCs, trying to figure out if it is a poisoner or the keyword to success, by means of a thoroughly detailed analysis of all the established phenomena in an aqueous environment. Actually, in the last few years the scientific community has suddenly turned its efforts in the direction of using water as a solvent, as demonstrated by the amount of research articles being published in the literature. Indeed, by means of DSSCs fabricated with water-based electrolytes, reduced costs, non-flammability, reduced volatility and improved environmental compatibility could be easily achieved. As a result, an increasing number of novel electrodes, dyes and electrolyte components are continuously proposed, being highly challenging from the materials science viewpoint and with the golden thread of producing truly water-based DSSCs. If the initial purpose of DSSCs was the construction of an artificial photosynthetic system able to convert solar light into electricity, the use of water as the key component may represent a great step forward towards their widespread diffusion in the market.