Ternary composites of Ni–polyaniline–graphene as counter electrodes for dye-sensitized solar cells
Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs), different in principle from the conventional solar cells based on p–n junctions, are competitively cost-effective. For development of this kind of emerging solar cell, it is very significant to reduce their cost and improve their energy conversion efficiency to the maximum extent. In this article, ternary composites (Ni–PANI–G composites) consisting of nickel nanoparticles, polyaniline (PANI), and graphene (G) were prepared for the first time and used as counter electrodes to replace the noble metal Pt in DSSCs. In the case of PANI, the introduction of Ni nanoparticles can improve the electrocatalytic ability for the reduction of triiodide ions in the counter electrode, while in the meantime, the addition of graphene in the Ni–PANI–G composites can increase the electrical conductivity of the counter electrode. The optimized DSSCs fabricated by using the Ni–PANI–G composites as the counter electrode exhibit an overall power conversion efficiency of 5.80% compared to 5.30% for reference platinum (Pt) counter-electrodes. Electrochemical impedance spectra (EIS) show that the charge-transfer resistance at the interface between electrolyte and counter-electrode in the case of the ternary composite is obviously decreased. These results are significant to develop low-cost counter electrode materials for DSSCs.