Near-infrared (NIR) surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) study of novel functional phenothiazines for potential use in dye sensitized solar cells (DSSC)†
Phenothiazines are of potential use as dye sensitizers in Grätzel-type dye sensitized solar cells (DSSC). Plasmonic nanoparticles like gold nanoparticles can enhance the power conversion efficiency of these solar cells. In this work near-infrared surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (NIR-SERS) is used to investigate the interaction between six novel phenothiazine-merocyanine dyes containing the three different functional groups rhodanine, 1,3-indanedione and cyanoacylic acid with plasmonic nanomaterials, to decide if the incorporation of plasmonic nanoparticles could enhance the efficiency of a Grätzel-type solar cell. The studies were carried out in the solution state using spherical and rod-shaped gold nanostructures. With KCl induced agglomerated spherical gold nanoparticles, forming SERS hot spots, the results showed low detection limits between 0.1 μmol L−1 for rhodanine containing phenothiazine dyes, because of the formation of Au–S bonds and 3 μmol L−1 for cyanoacrylic acid containing dyes, which formed H-aggregates in the watery dispersion. Results with gold nanorods showed similar trends in the SERS measurements with lower limits of detection, because of a shielding effect from the strongly-bound surfactant. Additional fluorescence studies were carried out to determine if the incorporation of nanostructures leads to fluorescence quenching. Overall we conclude that the addition of gold nanoparticles to rhodanine and 1,3-indanedione containing phenothiazine merocyanine dyes could enhance their performance in Grätzel-type solar cells, because of their strong interactions with plasmonic nanoparticles.