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Diatom frustules enhancing the efficiency of gel polymer electrolyte based dye-sensitized solar cells with multilayer photoelectrodes

Journal article
Authors Tmwj Bandara
Maurizio Furlani
Ingvar Albinsson
Angela Wulff
B. E. Mellander
Published in Nanoscale Advances
Volume 2
Issue 1
Pages 199-209
ISSN 2516-0230
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Department of Physics (GU)
Pages 199-209
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1039/c9na00679f
Keywords conversion efficiency, performance, fabrication, simulation, Chemistry, Science & Technology - Other Topics, Materials Science
Subject categories Physical Chemistry

Abstract

The incorporation of nanostructures that improve light scattering and dye adsorption has been suggested for dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs), but the manufacture of photonic and nanostructured materials with the desired properties is not an easy task. In nature, however, the process of light-harvesting for photosynthesis has, in some cases, evolved structures with remarkable wavelength-sensitive light-trapping properties. The present work is focused on enhancing the efficiency of quasi solid-state DSSCs by capitalizing on the light trapping properties of diatom frustules since they provide complex 3-dimensional structures for scattering and trapping light. This study reports a promising approach to prepare TiO2 nanocrystal (14 nm) based photo-electrodes by utilizing the waveguiding and photon localization effects of nanostructured diatom frustules for enhancing light harvesting without deteriorating the electron conduction. Single and double-layered photo-electrodes were prepared with different frustule/nanocrystal combinations and conformations on transparent conductive oxide substrates. This study clearly reports impressive efficiency and short circuit current density enhancements of about 35% and 39%, respectively, due to the incorporation of diatom frustules extracted from a ubiquitous species. The SEM images obtained in this work reveal that the produced thin films had a remarkable surface coverage of evenly distributed frustules within the TiO2 nanoparticle layer. To the best of our knowledge, this study reports the first quasi solid-state DSSC based on a photo-electrode with incorporated bio-formed nanostructures.

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