Stabilizing chromophore binding on TiO2 for long-term stability of dye-sensitized solar cells using multicomponent atomic layer deposition†
Ambient humidity and high temperature are known to degrade dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) via chromophore desorption. Recently, enhanced dye-attachment to TiO2 surfaces has been realized by coating molecularly functionalized surfaces with inorganic atomic layer deposition (ALD) coatings. Here, we apply this ALD approach to DSSCs and demonstrate that high energy conversion efficiencies can be maintained while significantly extending device lifetimes. While single component ALD layers show improved high-temperature stability, it significantly degraded up to 45% of initial DSSC performance right after ALD. We, however, find that mixed component ALD layers provide initial efficiencies within 90% of their untreated counterparts while still extending device lifetimes. Optimized ALD protection schemes maintain 80% of their initial efficiency after 500 h of thermal aging at 80 °C whereas efficiency of DSSCs with no ALD protection drop below 60% of their initial efficiencies. IR spectroscopy conducted in situ during ALD reveals that carboxylate linker groups transition from unbound or weakly-bound states, respectively, to more strongly bound bidentate structures. This strategy to improve dye-attachment by ALD while maintaining high performance is novel and promising for extending the functional lifetime for DSSCs and other related devices.