Calculations of the light absorption spectra of porphyrinoid chromophores for dye-sensitized solar cells†
Solar power is a strong alternative to the currently used fossil fuels in order to satisfy the world's energy needs. Among them, dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) represent a low-cost option. Efficient and cheap dyes are currently needed to make DSSCs competitive. Computational chemistry can be used to guide the design of new light-absorbing chromophores. Here, we have computationally studied the lowest excited states of ZnPBAT, which is a recently synthesized porphyrinoid chromophore with high light-absorption efficiency. The calculations have been performed at ab initio correlated levels of theory employing second-order coupled clusters (CC2) and algebraic diagrammatic construction using second order (ADC(2)) methods and by performing density functional theory (DFT) calculations using the time-dependent DFT (TDDFT) approach for excitation energies. The ultraviolet-visible (UV-vis) spectrum calculated at the ADC(2) and CC2 levels agrees well with the experimental one. The calculations show that ZnPBAT has six electronic transitions in the visible range of the absorption spectrum. The ab initio correlated calculations and previously reported experimental data have been used to assess the performance of several well-known density functionals that have been employed in the present TDDFT study. Solvent effects have been estimated by using the conductor-like screening model (COSMO). The influence of the addition of a TiO2 cluster to the chromophore systems has also been investigated. The results indicate that both CAM-B3LYP and Becke's “half-and-half” (BHLYP) density functionals are appropriate for the studies of excitation energies in the blue range of the visible spectrum for these kinds of porphyrinoid chromophores, whereas the excitation energies of the Q band calculated at the ab initio correlated level are more accurate than those obtained in the present TDDFT calculations. The inclusion of solvent effects has a modest influence on the spectrum of the protonated form of the studied chromophores, whereas solvent models are crucial when studying the absorption spectrum of the anionic chromophore. The calculated UV-vis spectrum for the chromophore anion is not significantly affected by attaching a TiO2 cluster to it.