Mesoporous titania beads for use in dye-sensitized solar cells
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A range of titanium dioxide (titania) samples provided by Huntsman Pigments and Additives were investigated for their suitability for use in various optoelectronic devices, specifically dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). Five of the titania samples are 1-20 micrometre size spherical 3D porous beads made up of titania nanoparticles and a further six samples are porous titania nanoparticle clusters of no specific shape, all of which possess high surface areas from 85 to 276 m2g-1. The samples were compared to commercially available nanocrystalline TiO2 powders and paste. All of the samples were initially assessed for suitability in DSSC devices by investigating various properties such as crystal phase, particle size, band gap, morphology and N719 dye adsorption, both as a powder sample and as a sintered film, employing techniques such as powder x-ray diffraction, UV/Vis spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Different methods of formulating the samples into pastes for application to a substrate were attempted and electrochemical properties of a selection of films were also compared. The more promising titania samples were formulated into dye-sensitized solar cells and cell efficiencies calculated. DSSC devices were also fabricated with low temperature (125oC) sintering of the titania layer to assess the suitability of the samples for use in devices with flexible substrates. Initial devices incorporating the Huntsman TiO2 samples provided low efficiencies (< 0.1%). The samples were then modified with pre-sintering treatment prior to paste formulation to optimize crystallinity, particle size, porosity and surface area. The modified titania bead samples showed great promise in low temperature sintered devices, providing device efficiencies of 2.8%, more than double that of those incorporating the standard P25 TiO2 (1.3%). After sample modification a superior solar cell performance (3.2%) was also observed in 510oC sintered devices when compared to the standard P25 TiO2 devices (2.9%), with higher photocurrent and open circuit voltage than devices fabricated from commercially optimized TiO2 paste. Devices were also fabricated using pre-sensitized titania in an attempt to reduce device manufacturing time. The modified samples again showed good performance, providing working devices with efficiencies comparable to the equivalent pre-sensitized P25 devices.