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ACS Nano. 2012 May 22;6(5):4418-27. doi: 10.1021/nn301137r. Epub 2012 Apr 24.

Know thy nano neighbor. Plasmonic versus electron charging effects of metal nanoparticles in dye-sensitized solar cells.

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Radiation Laboratory, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA.


Neighboring metal nanoparticles influence photovoltaic and photocatalytic behavior of semiconductor nanostructures either through Fermi level equilibration by accepting electrons or inducing localized surface plasmon effects. By employing SiO(2)- and TiO(2)-capped Au nanoparticles we have identified the mechanism with which the performance of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) is influenced by the neighboring metal nanoparticles. The efficiency of an N719 dye-sensitized solar cell (9.3%) increased to 10.2% upon incorporation of 0.7% Au@SiO(2) and to 9.8% upon loading of 0.7% Au@TiO(2) nanoparticles. The plasmonic effect as monitored by introducing Au@SiO(2) in DSSC produces higher photocurrent. However, Au nanoparticles undergo charge equilibration with TiO(2) nanoparticles and shift the apparent Fermi level of the composite to more negative potentials. As a result, Au@TiO(2) nanoparticle-embedded DSSC exhibit higher photovoltage. A better understanding of these two effects is crucial in exploiting the beneficial aspects of metal nanoparticles in photovoltaics.

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