The combination of some non-iodine one-electron outer-sphere redox shuttles with high-absorption-coefficient organic D–π–A dyes has very recently brought forth a new opportunity towards efficiency enhancement of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs). Thereby a comprehensive understanding on the structure–property relationship of metal-free organic photosensitizers will play a pivotal role in further development of high-efficiency devices iodine-free. Herein, we scrutinize some general influences of the cyanoacrylic-acid-anchoring-group number of organic dyes upon the optoelectronic features of mesoscopic titania solar cells based on the tris(1,10-phenanthroline)cobalt(II/III) redox shuttle, by employing three pairs of uniped and biped dyes with thiophene, 3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene and 4,4-dihexyl-4H-cyclopenta[2,1-b:3,4-b′]dithiophene as the π-conjugated spacers. It is found that regardless of the spacer selection, a biped dye confers an improved light absorption coefficient of a stained titania film in comparison with its uniped analogue, which is highly desirable for cells with a one-electron outer-sphere redox shuttle, because in this type of cells a very thin titania film is always needed to satisfy the mass transport and electron collection requirements. However, our electrical impedance analyses have revealed that the alteration from a uniped chromophore to its biped congener evokes not only a downward displacement of the titania conduction band edge but also an acceleration of interfacial charge recombination of the titania electrons with cobalt(III) ions, leading to an attenuated open-circuit photovoltage, highlighting the future necessity to design a sterically bulky organic dye featuring superior light-harvesting capacity.
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