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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2013 Feb 21;15(7):2596-602. doi: 10.1039/c2cp41788j. Epub 2012 Oct 3.

Charge transport improvement employing TiO2 nanotube arrays as front-side illuminated dye-sensitized solar cell photoanodes.

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Center for Space Human Robotics@PoliTo, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Corso Trento 21, 10129, Turin, Italy.


TiO(2) nanotube (NT) arrays with different lengths were fabricated by anodic oxidation of Ti foil and free-standing NT membranes were detached by the metal substrate and bonded on the fluorine-doped tin oxide surface implementing an easy procedure. Morphology of the as-grown material and of the prepared photoanode was investigated by means of electron microscopy, deepening the investigation on the thermal treatment effect. Crystalline orientation and exposed surface area were studied by X-ray diffraction and Brunauer-Emmett-Teller measurements, showing suitable characteristics for the application in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs). DSCs were assembled employing a microfluidic housing system. The cell performances and the electron transport properties as a function of the tube length, before and after a TiCl(4) treatment, were characterized by I-V electrical measurements, incident photon-to-electron conversion efficiency, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and open circuit voltage decay. Fitting the impedance spectra with an equivalent circuit, it was possible to obtain information on the electron diffusion properties into the TiO(2) nanotubes. A comparison with the charge transport properties evaluated in nanoparticle-based photoanodes witnesses a noteworthy increase of electron lifetime and diffusion length, yielding an overall power conversion efficiency up to 7.56%.

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