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Nat Commun. 2013;4:1583. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2547.

Rational screening low-cost counter electrodes for dye-sensitized solar cells.

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Key Laboratory for Ultrafine Materials of Ministry of Education, School of Materials Science and Engineering, East China University of Science and Technology, 130 Meilong Road, Shanghai 200237, China.


Dye-sensitized solar cells have attracted intense research attention owing to their ease of fabrication, cost-effectiveness and high efficiency in converting solar energy. Noble platinum is generally used as catalytic counter electrode for redox mediators in electrolyte solution. Unfortunately, platinum is expensive and non-sustainable for long-term applications. Therefore, researchers are facing with the challenge of developing low-cost and earth-abundant alternatives. So far, rational screening of non-platinum counter electrodes has been hamstrung by the lack of understanding about the electrocatalytic process of redox mediators on various counter electrodes. Here, using first-principle quantum chemical calculations, we studied the electrocatalytic process of redox mediators and predicted electrocatalytic activity of potential semiconductor counter electrodes. On the basis of theoretical predictions, we successfully used rust (α-Fe2O3) as a new counter electrode catalyst, which demonstrates promising electrocatalytic activity towards triiodide reduction at a rate comparable to platinum.


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