Dynamics of Interfacial Charge Transfer States and Carriers Separation in Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells: A Time-Resolved Terahertz Spectroscopy Study
Electron injection from a photoexcited molecular sensitizer into a wide-bandgap semiconductor is the primary step toward charge separation in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). According to the current understanding of DSSCs functioning mechanism, charges are separated directly during this primary electron transfer process, yielding hot conduction band electrons in the semiconductor and positive holes localized on oxidized dye molecules at the surface. Comparing results of ultrafast transient absorption and time-resolved terahertz measurements, we show here that intermediate interfacial charge transfer states (CTSs) are rather formed upon ultrafast injection from photoexcited Ru(II)− bipyridyl dye-sensitizer molecules into mesoporous TiO2 films. Formation and dissociation of these CTSs were found to strongly depend on their ionic environment and excess excitation energy. This finding establishes a new mechanism for charge separation in DSSCs. It also offers a rationale for the effect of electrolyte composition in liquid-based devices and of ion doping in solid-state solar cells under working conditions.