Flexible, Transferable, and Thermal-Durable Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell Photoanode Consisting of TiO2 Nanoparticles and Electrospun TiO2/SiO2 Nanofibers

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Program of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, Program of Materials Engineering and Science, and §Department of Chemistry and Applied Biological Sciences, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, South Dakota 57701, United States
*Tel.: 605-394-1229. Fax: 605-394-1232. E-mail: [email protected]
*Tel.: 605-394-2447. Fax: 605-394-1232. E-mail: [email protected]
Cite this: ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2014, 6, 18, 15925–15932
Publication Date (Web):August 27, 2014
Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society
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Flexible dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) often face the dilemma of the high temperature sintering of TiO2 photoanode to achieve superior performance and low thermal durability of the flexible substrate. Herein, we report a photoanode that combines the flexibility and high-temperature durability, which circumvents the long-standing challenge in flexible photoanode of DSSC. A hybrid mat consisting of anatase-phased TiO2 nanofibers and structurally amorphous SiO2 nanofibers is first prepared via the method of dual-spinneret electrospinning followed by pyrolysis. The hybrid fibrous mat is then impregnated with binder-free TiO2 nanoparticles and sintered at 480 °C to form a flexible composite photoanode for DSSC. The DSSC based on this composite photoanode achieves a power conversion efficiency of 6.74 ± 0.33% on FTO/glass substrate. Device characterization and phototransient measurement, dye-loading experiment, and structural characterization indicate that, in the composite photoanode, the TiO2 nanoparticles enhance the dye loading, the TiO2 nanofibers improve the electron transport, and the SiO2 nanofibers provide the mechanical strength/flexibility. The freestanding composite mat of TiO2 nanoparticles and electrospun TiO2/SiO2 nanofibers, as well as the preparation methods reported herein, not only is ideal for flexible DSSCs, but also can be applied for a broad range of flexible and low-cost energy conversion devices.

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Energy-dispersive X-ray spectrum of the hybrid nanofibrous mat of TiO2/SiO2; optical images of hybrid nanofibrous mat of TiO2/SiO2; optical images of the bending test of the neat TiO2 nanofibrous mat and the hybrid TiO2/SiO2 nanofibrous mat; TEM images of TiO2 nanoparticles and TiO2/SiO2 nanofibers; optical images of preparation of photoanode film based on binder-free TiO2 nanoparticles and the bending test of the hybrid mat on PET substrate; SEM images of the composite of hybrid nanofibrous mat and TiO2 nanoparticles on FTO substrate or the freestanding composite mat; optical images of four devices; SEM images of the composite photoanode of hybrid nanofibrous TiO2/SiO2 mat and TiO2 nanoparticles sintered at 150 or 480 °C; detailed discussion on the effect of sintering temperature; procedure for dye loading measurement. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

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