Heteroleptic Ru(II) cyclometalated complexes derived from benzimidazole-phenyl carbene ligands for dye-sensitized solar cells: an experimental and theoretical approach
We have designed and synthesized two new ligands based on N-heteroleptic/phenyl carbene (NH-phenyl C) i.e., 1-benzyl-2-(3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl)phenyl)-1H-benzo[d]imidazole (L1) and 3-(1-benzyl-1H-benzol-2-yl)-10-hexyl-10-H-phenothiazene (L2), used as ancillary ligands to heteroleptic Ru(II) complexes for dye-sensitized solar cells. Both NCS groups of the N719 sensitizer are replaced with L1 (TC-1) and L2 (TC-3) to obtain cyclometalated Ru(II) complexes and one of 4,4′-dicarboxylato-2,2′-bipyridine (dcbpy) with L1 to obtain a heteroleptic Ru(II) complex (TC-2). The presence of two trifluoromethyl groups of the L1 ligand stabilizes the HOMO level of Ru(II) complexes and the presence of a phenothiazine moiety of the L2 ligand alters the absorption properties of the TC-3 complex. Both the ligands and the heteroleptic Ru(II) complexes are characterized by elemental analyses, ESI-MS, 1H NMR, absorption and emission spectroscopy as well as electrochemical methods. The absorption spectra of TC-1 and TC-3 are blue shifted, when compared to the standard N719 sensitizer. The assessment of these newly designed cyclometalated and heteroleptic Ru(II) complexes has revealed that TC-2 exhibits an efficiency of 7.63%, whereas TC-1 has an efficiency of 6.39% using an I−/I3− redox couple. DFT and nanosecond transient absorption kinetic studies have been adopted to understand the low efficiency of the TC-3 complex.