Ligand Engineering for the Efficient Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells with Ruthenium Sensitizers and Cobalt Electrolytes
Over the past 20 years, ruthenium(II)-based dyes have played a pivotal role in turning dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) into a mature technology for the third generation of photovoltaics. However, the classic I3−/I− redox couple limits the performance and application of this technique. Simply replacing the iodine-based redox couple by new types like cobalt(3+/2+) complexes was not successful because of the poor compatibility between the ruthenium(II) sensitizer and the cobalt redox species. To address this problem and achieve higher power conversion efficiencies (PCEs), we introduce here six new cyclometalated ruthenium(II)-based dyes developed through ligand engineering. We tested DSCs employing these ruthenium(II) complexes and achieved PCEs of up to 9.4% using cobalt(3+/2+)-based electrolytes, which is the record efficiency to date featuring a ruthenium-based dye. In view of the complicated liquid DSC system, the disagreement found between different characterizations enlightens us about the importance of the sensitizer loading on TiO2, which is a subtle but equally important factor in the electronic properties of the sensitizers.