Dye-sensitized solar cells for efficient power generation under ambient lighting

Abstract

Solar cells that operate efficiently under indoor lighting are of great practical interest as they can serve as electric power sources for portable electronics and devices for wireless sensor networks or the Internet of Things. Here, we demonstrate a dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC) that achieves very high power-conversion efficiencies (PCEs) under ambient light conditions. Our photosystem combines two judiciously designed sensitizers, coded D35 and XY1, with the copper complex Cu(II/I)(tmby) as a redox shuttle (tmby, 4,4′,6,6′-tetramethyl-2,2′-bipyridine), and features a high open-circuit photovoltage of 1.1 V. The DSC achieves an external quantum efficiency for photocurrent generation that exceeds 90% across the whole visible domain from 400 to 650 nm, and achieves power outputs of 15.6 and 88.5 μW cm–2 at 200 and 1,000 lux, respectively, under illumination from a model Osram 930 warm-white fluorescent light tube. This translates into a PCE of 28.9%.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Molecular photovoltaics with Cu(II/I)(tmby)2 redox mediator and XY1 and D35 sensitizers.
Figure 2: Photovoltaic characteristics of D35/XY1 co-sensitized systems with Cu(tmby)2 as the redox mediator.
Figure 3
Figure 4: Absorption spectroscopy and time-resolved laser spectroscopy of interfacial electron transfer that involve the D35 and XY1 sensitizers.
Figure 5: Photovoltaic characteristics of co-sensitized DSCs measured under indoor-light conditions.

Change history

  • 08 May 2017

    In the version of this Article originally published online, in the abstract, the units for power output should have been 'μW cm–2'; thus, the values should have read '15.6 and 88.5 μW cm–2'. This has now been corrected in all versions of the Article.

References

  1. 1

    Collins, S. & Bell, G. Phenotypic consequences of 1,000 generations of selection at elevated CO2 in a green alga. Nature 431, 566–569 (2004).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Rogelj, J. et al. Paris Agreement: climate proposals need a boost to keep warming well below 2 °C. Nature 534, 631–639 (2016).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Ashina, S., Fujino, J., Masui, T., Ehara, T. & Hibino, G. A roadmap towards a low-carbon society in Japan using backcasting methodology: feasible pathways for achieving an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Energy Policy 41, 584–598 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Wackernagel, M. & Rees, W. Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth (New Society, 1998).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Green, M. A. Third generation photovoltaics: solar cells for 2020 and beyond. Physica E 14, 65–70 (2002).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Repins, I. et al. 19.9%-efficient ZnO/CdS/CuInGaSe2 solar cell with 81.2% fill factor. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 16, 235–239 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Chopra, K. L., Paulson, P. D. & Dutta, V. Thin-film solar cells: an overview. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 12, 69–92 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Saliba, M. et al. Incorporation of rubidium cations into perovskite solar cells improves photovoltaic performance. Science 354, 206–209, (2016).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Li, X. et al. A vacuum flash-assisted solution process for high-efficiency large-area perovskite solar cells. Science 353, 58–62 (2016).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Green, M. A., Ho-Baillie, A. & Snaith, H. J. The emergence of perovskite solar cells. Nat. Photon. 8, 506–514 (2014).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Mathew, S. et al. Dye-sensitized solar cells with 13% efficiency achieved through the molecular engineering of porphyrin sensitizers. Nat. Chem. 6, 242–247 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    O'Regan, B. & Gratzel, M. A low-cost, high-efficiency solar cell based on dye-sensitized colloidal TiO2 films. Nature 353, 737–740 (1991).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Fraas, L. M. & Partain, L. D. Solar Cells and Their Applications (Wiley, 2010).

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Kalyanasundaram, K. Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells (EFPL, 2010).

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Sakamoto, R. et al. Electron transport dynamics in redox-molecule-terminated branched oligomer wires on Au(111). J. Am. Chem. Soc. 137, 734–741 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Mathews, I., King, P. J., Stafford, F. & Frizzell, R. Performance of III–IV solar cells as indoor light energy harvesters. IEEE J. Photovolt. 6, 230–235 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Yang, P. C., Chan, I. M., Lin, C. H. & Chang, Y. L. Thin film solar cells for indoor use. In 37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conf., 696–698 (IEEE, 2011).

  18. 18

    Hagfeldt, A., Boschloo, G., Sun, L., Kloo, L. & Pettersson, H. Dye-sensitized solar cells. Chem. Rev. 110, 6595–6663 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Barber, G. D. et al. Utilization of direct and diffuse sunlight in a dye-sensitized solar cell—silicon photovoltaic hybrid concentrator system. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2, 581–585 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Lechêne, B. P. et al. Organic solar cells and fully printed super-capacitors optimized for indoor light energy harvesting. Nano Energy 26, 631–640 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Lan, J.-L., Wei, T.-C., Feng, S.-P., Wan, C.-C. & Cao, G. Effects of iodine content in the electrolyte on the charge transfer and power conversion efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells under low light intensities. J. Phys. Chem. C 116, 25727–25733 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Kroon, J. M. et al. Nanocrystalline dye-sensitized solar cells having maximum performance. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 15, 1–18 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Kontos, A. G. et al. Long-term thermal stability of liquid dye solar cells. J. Phys. Chem. C 117, 8636–8646 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Hattori, S., Wada, Y., Yanagida, S. & Fukuzumi, S. Blue copper model complexes with distorted tetragonal geometry acting as effective electron-transfer mediators in dye-sensitized solar cells. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 127, 9648–9654 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Bai, Y. et al. High-efficiency organic dye-sensitized mesoscopic solar cells with a copper redox shuttle. Chem. Commun. 47, 4376–4378 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Freitag, M. et al. High-efficiency dye-sensitized solar cells with molecular copper phenanthroline as solid hole conductor. Energy Environ. Sci. 8, 2634–2637 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Saygili, Y. et al. Copper bipyridyl redox mediators for dye-sensitized solar cells with high photovoltage. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 138, 15087–15096 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Freitag, M. et al. Copper phenanthroline as a fast and high-performance redox mediator for dye-sensitized solar cells. J. Phys. Chem. C 120, 9595–9603 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Mathews, I., Kelly, G., King, P. J. & Frizzell, R. GaAs solar cells for indoor light harvesting. In 40th Photovoltaic Specialist Conf., 510– 513 (IEEE, 2014).

  30. 30

    Feldt, S. M. et al. Design of organic dyes and cobalt polypyridine redox mediators for high-efficiency dye-sensitized solar cells. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 132, 16714–16724 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31

    Hagberg, D. P. et al. Symmetric and unsymmetric donor functionalization. Comparing structural and spectral benefits of chromophores for dye-sensitized solar cells. J. Mater. Chem. 19, 7232–7238 (2009).

    MathSciNet  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32

    Zhang, X. et al. Molecular engineering of potent sensitizers for very efficient light harvesting in thin-film solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 138, 10742–10745 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33

    Honda, M., Yanagida, M. & Han, L . Effect of co-adsorption dye on the electrode interface (Ru complex/TiO2) of dye-sensitized solar cells. AIP Adv. 3, 72113 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34

    Ellis, H. et al. PEDOT counter electrodes for dye-sensitized solar cells prepared by aqueous micellar electrodeposition. Electrochim. Acta 107, 45–51 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35

    Rühle, S. et al. Molecular adjustment of the electronic properties of nanoporous electrodes in dye-sensitized solar cells. J. Phys. Chem. B 109, 18907–18913 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36

    De Rossi, F., Pontecorvo, T. & Brown, T. M. Characterization of photovoltaic devices for indoor light harvesting and customization of flexible dye solar cells to deliver superior efficiency under artificial lighting. Appl. Energy 156, 413–422 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37

    Reich, N. H., van Sark, W. G. J. H. M. & Turkenburg, W. C. Charge yield potential of indoor-operated solar cells incorporated into product integrated photovoltaic (PIPV). Renew. Energy 36, 642–647 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38

    Tian, H. & Sun, L. Iodine-free redox couples for dye-sensitized solar cells. J. Mater. Chem. 21, 10592–10601 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39

    Randall, J. F. & Jacot, J. Is AM1.5 applicable in practice? Modelling eight photovoltaic materials with respect to light intensity and two spectra. Renew. Energy 28, 1851–1864 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40

    Tan, Y. K. & Panda, S. K. Energy harvesting from hybrid indoor ambient light and thermal energy sources for enhanced performance of wireless sensor nodes. IEEE Trans. Ind. Electron. 58, 4424–4435 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41

    Borgeson, J., Schauer, S. & Diewald, H. Benchmarking MCU Power Consumption for Ultra-Low-Power Applications (Texas Instruments, 2012).

    Google Scholar 

  42. 42

    Dolgov, A., Zane, R. & Popovic, Z. Power management system for online low power RF energy harvesting optimization. IEEE Trans Circuits Systems I 57, 1802–1811 (2010).

    MathSciNet  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43

    Roundy, S. et al. Improving power output for vibration-based energy scavengers. IEEE Pervasive Comput. 4, 28–36 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44

    Ogura, R. Y. et al. High-performance dye-sensitized solar cell with a multiple dye system. Appl. Phys. Lett. 94, 73308 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45

    Bach, U. et al. Solid-state dye-sensitized mesoporous TiO2 solar cells with high photon-to-electron conversion efficiencies. Nature 395, 583–585 (1998).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46

    Boschloo, G., Häggman, L. & Hagfeldt, A. Quantification of the effect of 4-tert-butylpyridine addition to I/I3 redox electrolytes in dye-sensitized nanostructured TiO2 solar cells. J. Phys. Chem. B 110, 13144–13150 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the Swiss National Science Foundation for financial support with the project entitled ‘Fundamental studies of mesoscopic devices for solar energy conversion’, project no. 200021_157135/1, and the NCCR MUST research instrument. J.H. and X.Y. thank NSFC/China (21421004 and 91233207) and the Programme of Introducing Talents of Discipline to Universities (B16017). We appreciate the technical support of R. Humphry-Baker, P. Comte and J.-D. Decoppet. We are also very grateful to G24power for the comparative measurements of the GaAs Alta solar cells under indoor-light conditions.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

A.H. supervised the study. M.F. conceived the work and designed the experiments. M.F. and M.G. wrote the manuscript with feedback from the co-authors. M.F., P.L. and Y.S. fabricated and characterized the solar cells. M.F. assembled the devices, and analysed and synthesized the copper complexes. Y.S. prepared the PEDOT counter electrodes. X.Z. and J.H. were responsible for the XY1 dye synthesis and characterization. J.T. and J.-E.M. performed and analysed the PIA and transient spectroscopy measurements. F.G. contributed to the electrolyte and device characterization. S.M.Z. and M.G. coordinated the work.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Michael Grätzel or Anders Hagfeldt.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary information

Supplementary information (PDF 795 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Freitag, M., Teuscher, J., Saygili, Y. et al. Dye-sensitized solar cells for efficient power generation under ambient lighting. Nature Photon 11, 372–378 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2017.60

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter for a daily update on COVID-19 science.
Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing