The present work demonstrates the usefulness of the soft-template directed approach in preparing mesoporous titanium dioxide and applying it in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). Mesoporous titanium dioxide with nanograins of dimension in the range, 16–20 nm were prepared through the soft-templating approach using various cationic surfactants such as octyl-, dodecyl-, cetyl trimethylammonium bromide with different surfactant compositions and titania precursor concentrations. As-synthesized mesoporous titanium dioxide samples were characterized by TGA, PXRD, FESEM, HRTEM and surface area measurements, used as photo-electrode material in DSSCs. Under global AM 1.5 solar irradiation, the best photovoltaic performance of 7.5% with a short circuit photocurrent density of 14.2 mA/cm−2, an open circuit voltage of 748 mV, and a fill factor of 70.83% were obtained for the DSSC using a film of mesoporous TiO2 synthesized from the cetyl trimethylammoniumbromide surfactant. In contrast, the use of commercial titania powder P25 resulted in an efficiency of 5.0% under similar conditions. The structural and morphological merits of these template-directed materials will be especially addressed in comparison with their traditional bulk forms.
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