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Nano Lett. 2012 Jul 11;12(7):3656-62. doi: 10.1021/nl301407b. Epub 2012 Jun 26.

High efficiency dye-sensitized solar cells based on three-dimensional multilayered ZnO nanowire arrays with "caterpillar-like" structure.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 500 10th Street N.W., Atlanta, Georgia 30332, United States.


A 3D ZnO nanowire-based dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) with unique "caterpillar-like" structure was designed. Because of the significant improvement of the total ZnO nanowire surface area, the amount of light absorption was substantially increased. This increase in the light harvesting efficiency enables us to achieve an overall power conversion efficiency as high as 5.20%, which is the highest reported value to date for ZnO nanowire-based DSSCs. A branched-multilayered design of ZnO nanowire arrays grown from ZnO nanofiber seed layers proves to be very successful in fabricating 3D ZnO nanowire arrays. Practically, electrospun ZnO nanowires were used as the seeds in multilayer growth of ZnO nanowire arrays with a unique "caterpillar-like" structure. This unique structure significantly enhances the surface area of the ZnO nanowire arrays, leading to higher short-circuit currents. Additionally, this design resulted in closer spacing between the nanowires and more direct conduction pathways for electron transfer. Thus, the open-circuit voltage was so significantly improved as a direct result of the reduction in electron recombination.


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