Branched Nanostructured Anodes For Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

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Alayashi, Wissal
GLAD , Hierarchical , Fractal , DSSCs , TiO2 , Ti , Solar Cells , Branched
The high relative efficiency demonstrated in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) arises from a combination of light scattering within, and photo-generated electron transport through, the porous structure of a TiO2 anodes. However, the convoluted conduction path for extracting photo-generated electrons through the sponge-like structure of conventional DSSC anodes has limited further improvement. This thesis is an investigation of thin film deposited TiO2 anodes with branched tree-like structures that mimic the highly-efficient natural flow structures of trees, rivers, and the human vascular system, which can providing uninterrupted paths for photo-generated electron transport through the hierarchical branches. The main goal has been the development of a robust fabrication process for the study of DSSCs with anodes deposited with glancing angle deposition (GLAD) as it is a new area of research and the first DSSCs produced in our lab. The anodes are deposited as thin films using electron-beam evaporation with two different source of material: metallic Ti and TiO2. Ti films are shown to exhibit highly branched characteristics, with distinct branches when deposited at rate of 15 ̊A/s versus 5 ̊A/s (i.e. rate dependence). A thermal oxidation study for these films is performed using H2/ O2 at 450◦C-520◦C. For TiO2 films, post deposition annealing is performed in O2 at 450◦C. Two methods are explored to create defined active areas of the films: dilute hydrofluoric acid (HF) wet etching, and lift-off lithography. DSSCs are constructed using standard components (N719 dye, I−/I3− electrolyte, and Pt cathode) paired with the photoanodes. The films are characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and x-ray diffraction (XRD). The properties of DSSCs are investigated with current density-voltage measurements (J-V). Annealed TiO2 films with thickness ranging from 1 μm-3.3 μm exhibit power conversion efficiency of DSSC of 0.5% -3.7%, respectively, which are higher efficiency than GLAD DSSCs reported in the literature for coatings of this thickness. The high fill factors (0.82) indicate good shunt and series resistances for the cells, which are also higher than DSSCs reported in the literature. The enhancement in efficiency and thus in short-circuit current is attributed to good cell performance (i.e. uniform active area), increase in the specific surface area for dye adsorption, and continuous electron transport in the interconnectivity structures.
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