November 3, 2008

The dyes have it

Come up with the right dye and you can boost the performance of a potentially inexpensive type of solar cell.

Three research teams have made new dyes for dye-sensitized solar cells that give the solar cells' efficiencies of about 10 percent. Like previous dyes, the new dyes are compounds that include the metal ruthenium. The best previous ruthenium-based dyes also give efficiencies of about ten percent, but they weren't suitable for practical use.

The active layer in dye-sensitized solar cells is a dye-covered semiconductor material, usually titanium dioxide. The dye absorbs photons and emits electrons. The semiconductor transports the electrons to an electrode. In traditional silicon solar cells, photon absorption, charge separation and charge transport are all done by the silicon.

Dye-sensitized solar cells are about half as efficient as silicon solar cells but have the potential to be much less expensive.

Research paper:
New Efficiency Records for Stable Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells with Low-Volatility and Ionic Liquid Electrolytes
Journal of Physical Chemistry C, published online October 11, 2008
Triarylamine-Functionalized Ruthenium Dyes for Efficient Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells
ChemSusChem, published online October 29, 2008
High Efficient Donor–Acceptor Ruthenium Complex for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell Applications
Energy & Environmental Science, published online October 27, 2008

Researchers' homepages:
State Key Laboratory of Polymer Physics and Chemistry
Laboratory for Photonics and Interfaces, Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne
Masuda Laboratory

Related stories and briefs:
Salts boost dye solar cells -- related research

Back to ERN November 3/10, 2008



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