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Acc Chem Res. 2009 Nov 17;42(11):1848-57. doi: 10.1021/ar900134d.

Recombination in quantum dot sensitized solar cells.

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Grup de Dispositius Fotovoltaics i Optoelectrònics, Departament de Física, Universitat Jaume I, 12071 Castelló, Spain.


Quantum dot sensitized solar cells (QDSCs) have attracted significant attention as promising third-generation photovoltaic devices. In the form of quantum dots (QDs), the semiconductor sensitizers have very useful and often tunable properties; moreover, their theoretical thermodynamic efficiency might be as high as 44%, better than the original 31% calculated ceiling. Unfortunately, the practical performance of these devices still lags behind that of dye-sensitized solar cells. In this Account, we summarize the strategies for depositing CdSe quantum dots on nanostructured mesoporous TiO(2) electrodes and discuss the methods that facilitate improvement in the performance and stability of QDSCs. One particularly significant factor for solar cells that use polysulfide electrolyte as the redox couple, which provides the best performance among QDSCs, is the passivation of the photoanode surface with a ZnS coating, which leads to a dramatic increase of photocurrents and efficiencies. However, these solar cells usually show a poor current-potential characteristic, so a general investigation of the recombination mechanisms is required for improvements. A physical model based on recombination through a monoenergetic TiO(2) surface state that takes into account the effect of the surface coverage has been developed to better understand the recombination mechanisms of QDSCs. The three main methods of QD adsorption on TiO(2) are (i) in situ growth of QDs by chemical bath deposition (CBD), (ii) deposition of presynthesized colloidal QDs by direct adsorption (DA), and (iii) deposition of presynthesized colloidal QDs by linker-assisted adsorption (LA). A systematic investigation by impedance spectroscopy of QDSCs prepared by these methods showed a decrease in the charge-transfer resistance and increased electron lifetimes for CBD samples; the same result was found after ZnS coating because of the covering of the TiO(2) surface. The increase of the lifetime with the ZnS treatment has also been checked independently by open-circuit potential (V(oc)) decay measurements. Despite the lower recombination rates by electron transfer to electrolyte as well as the higher light absorption of CBD samples, only a moderate increase of photocurrent compared with colloidal QD samples is obtained, indicating the presence of an additional, internal recombination pathway in the closely packed QD layer.

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