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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2016 Oct 26;8(42):28652-28662. doi: 10.1021/acsami.6b10030. Epub 2016 Oct 11.

Conjugated or Broken: The Introduction of Isolation Spacer ahead of the Anchoring Moiety and the Improved Device Performance.

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Department of Chemistry, Hubei Key Lab on Organic and Polymeric Optoelectronic Materials, Wuhan University , Wuhan 430072, China.
Michael Grätzel Center for Mesoscopic Solar Cells, Wuhan National Laboratory for Optoelectronics, Huazhong University of Science and Technology , Wuhan 430072, China.
Key Laboratory of Organic Solids, Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Science, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing 100190, China.


Acceptors in traditional dyes are generally designed closed to TiO2 substrate to form a strong electronic coupling with each other (e.g., cyanoacrylic acid) to enhance the electron injection for the high performance of the corresponding solar cells. However, some newly developed dyes with chromophores or main acceptors isolated from anchoring groups also exhibit comparable or even higher performances. To investigate the relatively untouched electronic coupling effect in dye-sensitized solar cells, a relatively precise method is proposed in which the strength is adjusted gradually by changing isolation spacers between main acceptors and anchoring groups to partially control the electronic interaction. After an analysis of 3 different groups of 11 sensitizers, it is inferred that the electronic coupling should be kept at a suitable level to balance the electron injection and recombination. Based on a reference dye LI-81 possessing a cyanoacrylic acid as acceptor and anchoring group, both photocurrent and photovoltage are synergistically improved after the properties of isolation spacers were changed through the adjustment of the length, steric hindrance, and push-pull electronic characteristic. Accordingly, the rationally designed dye LI-87 with an isolation spacer of thiophene ethylene gives an efficiency of 8.54% and further improved to 9.07% in the presence of CDCA, showing a new way to develop efficient sensitizers.


dye-sensitized solar cells; electron injection and recombination; electronic coupling; isolation spacers; the structure−property relationship


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