A research team comprised of Professor Taiho Park, Jongchul Lim, and Taewan Kim of the Department of Chemical Engineering, reported a novel way to solve both dye regeneration and electron transport problems simultaneously using a “ladder” concept. The paper was published in the December issue of Energy & Environmental Science.
Next generation energy devices should be based on clean and sustainable solar energy. Among the conventional solar energy device, dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) have lots of advantages with higher power conversion efficiency such as chip process, easy fabrication, and transparent device. With these advantages, the DSCs are promising energy device for portable device, smart watch, room electricity, and home appliances.
However, problems with DSCs exist for the commercialization of even the chip fabrication process. The first problem is the slow dye regeneration reaction by redox couple. The other is the loss in photocurrent by the electron recombination reaction between injected electron and redox couple. Therefore, the dye regeneration reaction should be very fast and the recombination should be suppressed for the higher power conversion efficiency to commercialize.
At the interfaces, the team introduced a novel material (3, 4, 5-tris-butenyloxy benzoic acid) which has special functional groups. This material acts as a ladder to overcome the energy barrier for the fast electron transfer from redox couple to dye. At the same time, this material covers the interface to block the interaction between injection electron and redox couple. Previous research generally focused only on the electron transport by suppressing the recombination reaction without solving the dye regeneration issue.
Professor Park believes that this study, based on fundamental nanotechnology source and interfacial electron transport, is a step toward further research for commercializing DSCs as well as flexible nano-energy device.
This work was supported by grants from the Center for Advanced Soft Electronics under the Global Frontier Research Program (Code no. NRF-2012M3A6A5055225), and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.