High-Performance and Stable Gel-State Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells Using Anodic TiO2 Nanotube Arrays and Polymer-Based Gel Electrolytes

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Atomic and Molecular Group, Physics Department, Tarbiat Modares University, P.O. Box 14115-175, Tehran, Iran
Department of Applied Chemistry and Institute of Molecular Science, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu 30010, Taiwan
Cite this: ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2015, 7, 23, 12731–12739
Publication Date (Web):May 18, 2015
Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society
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Highly ordered and vertically oriented TiO2 nanotube (NT) arrays were synthesized with potentiostatic anodization of Ti foil and applied to fabricate gel-state dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). The open structure of the TiO2 NT facilitates the infiltration of the gel-state electrolyte; their one-dimensional structural feature provides effective charge transport. TiO2 NTs of length L = 15–35 μm were produced on anodization for periods of t = 5–15 h at a constant voltage of 60 V, and sensitized with N719 for photovoltaic characterization. A commercially available copolymer, poly(methyl methacrylate-co-ethyl acrylate) (PMMA-EA), served as a gelling agent to prepare a polymer-gel electrolyte (PGE) for DSSC applications. The PGE as prepared exhibited a maximum conductivity of 4.58 mS cm–1 with PMMA-EA (7 wt %). The phase transition temperature (Tp) of the PGE containing PMMA-EA at varied concentrations was determined on the basis of the viscosities measured at varied temperatures. Tp increased with increasing concentration of PMMA-EA. An NT-DSSC with L = 30 μm assembled using a PGE containing PMMA-EA (7 wt %) exhibited an overall power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 6.9%, which is comparable with that of a corresponding liquid-type device, PCE = 7.1%. Moreover, the gel-state NT-DSSC exhibited excellent thermal and light-soaking enduring stability: the best device retained ∼90% of its initial efficiency after 1000 h under 1 sun of illumination at 50 °C, whereas its liquid-state counterpart decayed appreciably after light soaking for 500 h.

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Side-view SEM images of the TiO2 NT arrays with varied tube lengths (Figure S1), JV characteristics and IPCE action spectra of NT-DSSC devices to find the optimum tube length (Figure S2), UV–vis absorption spectra of the dye-loading experiments (Figure S3), and amount of dye loading and corresponding photovoltaic parameters of NT-DSSC devices as a function of the tube length (Table S1). The Supporting Information is available free of charge on the ACS Publications website at DOI: 10.1021/acsami.5b01519.

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