Regeneration and recombination kinetics was investigated for dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) using a series of different cobalt polypyridine redox couples, with redox potentials ranging between 0.34 and 1.20 V vs. NHE. Marcus theory was applied to explain the rate of electron transfer. The regeneration kinetics for a number of different dyes (L0, D35, Y123, Z907) by most of the cobalt redox shuttles investigated occurred in the Marcus normal region. The calculated reorganization energies for the regeneration reaction ranged between 0.59 and 0.70 eV for the different organic and organometallic dyes investigated. Under the experimental conditions employed, the regeneration efficiency decreased when cobalt complexes with a driving force for regeneration of 0.4 eV and less were employed. The regeneration efficiency was found to depend on the structure of the dye and the concentration of the redox couples. [Co(bpy-pz)2]2+, which has a driving force for regeneration of 0.25 eV for the triphenylamine based organic dye, D35, was found to regenerate 84% of the dye molecules, when a high concentration of the cobalt complex was used. Recombination kinetics between electrons in TiO2 and cobalt(III) species in the electrolyte was also studied using steady state dark current measurements. For cobalt complexes with highly positive redox potentials (>0.55 V vs. NHE) dark current was found to decrease, consistent with electron transfer reactions occurring in the Marcus inverted region. However, for the cobalt complexes with the most positive redox potentials an increase in dark current was found, which can be attributed to recombination mediated by surface states.
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