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Open AccessArticle

Sol-Gel Processed TiO2 Nanotube Photoelectrodes for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells with Enhanced Photovoltaic Performance

1
Solar Energy Conversion Laboratory, Institute of Biochemical Physics RAS, 119334 Moscow, Russia
2
Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water and Sustainability (EEWS), Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34134, Korea
3
Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 34134, Korea
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(2), 296; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10020296
Received: 3 January 2020 / Revised: 5 February 2020 / Accepted: 5 February 2020 / Published: 10 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metal-Oxide Nanomaterials for Energy Application)
The performance of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) critically depends on the efficiency of electron transport within the TiO2-dye-electrolyte interface. To improve the efficiency of the electron transfer the conventional structure of the working electrode (WE) based on TiO2 nanoparticles (NPs) was replaced with TiO2 nanotubes (NTs). Sol-gel method was used to prepare undoped and Nb-doped TiO2 NPs and TiO2 NTs. The crystallinity and morphology of the WEs were characterized using XRD, SEM and TEM techniques. XPS and PL measurements revealed a higher concentration of oxygen-related defects at the surface of NPs-based electrodes compared to that based on NTs. Replacement of the conventional NPs-based TiO2 WE with alternative led to a 15% increase in power conversion efficiency (PCE) of the DSCs. The effect is attributed to the more efficient transfer of charge carriers in the NTs-based electrodes due to lower defect concentration. The suggestion was confirmed experimentally by electrical impedance spectroscopy measurements when we observed the higher recombination resistance at the TiO2 NTs-electrolyte interface compared to that at the TiO2 NPs-electrolyte interface. Moreover, Nb-doping of the TiO2 structures yields an additional 14% PCE increase. The application of Nb-doped TiO2 NTs as photo-electrode enables the fabrication of a DSC with an efficiency of 8.1%, which is 35% higher than that of a cell using a TiO2 NPs. Finally, NTs-based DSCs have demonstrated a 65% increase in the PCE value, when light intensity was decreased from 1000 to 10 W/m2 making such kind device be promising alternative indoor PV applications when the intensity of incident light is low.
Keywords: dye-sensitized solar cells; nanotubes; charge traps; semiconductor-liquid interface; X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy dye-sensitized solar cells; nanotubes; charge traps; semiconductor-liquid interface; X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
MDPI and ACS Style

Tsvetkov, N.; Larina, L.; Ku Kang, J.; Shevaleevskiy, O. Sol-Gel Processed TiO2 Nanotube Photoelectrodes for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells with Enhanced Photovoltaic Performance. Nanomaterials 2020, 10, 296.

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