Copper Phenanthroline as a Fast and High-Performance Redox Mediator for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells
The most commonly used redox mediators in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs), iodide/triiodide and cobalt trisbipyridine ([Co(bpy)(3)](2+/3+)), were successfully replaced by bis (2,9-dimethy1-1,10-phenanthroline) copp er (I/H) ([Cu(dmp)(2)](1+/2+)). The use of the copper complex based electrolyte led to an exceptionally high photovoltaic performance of 8.3% for LEG4-sensitized TiO2 solar cells, with a remarkably high open-circuit potential of above 1.0 V at 1000 W m(-2) under AM1.5G conditions. The copper complex based redox electrolyte has higher diffusion coefficients and is considerably faster in dye regeneration than comparable cobalt trisbipyridine based electrolytes. A driving force for dye regeneration of only 0.2 eV is sufficient to obtain unit yield, pointing to new possibilities for improvement in DSC efficiencies. The interaction of the excited dye with components of the electrolyte was monitored using steady-state emission measurements and time-correlated single-photon counting (TC-SPC). Our results indicate bimolecular reductive quenching of the excited LEG4 dye by the [Cu(dmp)(2)](2+) complex through a dynamic mechanism. Excited-state dye molecules can readily undergo bimolecular electron transfer with a suitable donor molecule. In DSCs this process can occur when the excited dye is unable to inject electrons into the TiO2. With a high electrolyte concentration the excited dye can be intercepted with an electron from the electrolyte resulting in the reduced state of the dye. Quenching of the reduced dye by the electrolyte competes with electron injection and results in a lower photocurrent. Quenching of excited LEG4 by complexes of [Cu(dmp)(2)](+), [Co(bpy)(3)](2+), and [Co(bpy)(3)](3+) followed a static mechanism, due ground-state dye-quencher binding. Inhibition of unwanted quenching processes by structural modifications may open ways to further increase the overall efficiency.