Injection and ultrafast regeneration in dye-sensitized solar cells

Liisa J. Antila, Pasi Myllyperkio*, Satu Mustalahti, Heli Lehtivuori, Jouko E I Korppi-Tommola

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Injection of an electron from the excited dye molecule to the semiconductor is the initial charge separation step in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC's). Though the dynamics of the forward injection process has been widely studied, the results reported so far are controversial, especially for complete DSC's. In this work, the electron injection in titanium dioxide (TiO2) films sensitized with ruthenium bipyridyl dyes N3 and N719 was studied both in neat solvent and in a typical iodide/triiodide (I-/I3 -) DSC electrolyte. Transient absorption (TA) spectroscopy was used to monitor both the formation of the oxidized dye and the arrival of injected electrons to the conduction band of TiO2. Emission lifetime of the dye-sensitized films was recorded with time-correlated single photon counting to reveal nanosecond time scales of injection. It was found that the injection dynamics of the N3 and N719 dyes are similar. In solvent the injection from both dyes occurs in the femto- to picosecond time scale while in the I -/I3- electrolyte, it slows down significantly, extending to the nanosecond time domain. The presence of the electrolyte was found to increase the excited state lifetime of the dyes, implying that injection efficiency remains high despite the slower kinetics of injection compared to neat solvent. A remarkable new finding was that the prominent absorption signal of the oxidized dye observed in neat solvent vanished almost completely in the presence of the electrolyte, while the arrival of electrons to the conduction band of TiO2 was practically unaltered, only slowed down. The observed disappearance of the oxidized dye population in the I -/I3- electrolyte is most likely related to the reduction of the oxidized dye by iodide I-, which is the first step of the dye regeneration process. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time initial dye regeneration has been shown to occur in a few picoseconds after injection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7772-7780
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Physical Chemistry C
Volume118
Issue number15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2014

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