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Evaluation of Microwave Plasma Sintering for the Fabrication of Dye Sensitized Solar Cell (DSSC) Electrodes

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Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) have demonstrated considerable potential due to their solar energy conversion efficiency and their fabrication from relatively low cost materials.1,2 Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles are widely used in the fabrication of the DSSC electrodes.2 There is a considerable energy requirement however required for the sintering of the TiO2 particles during the fabrication of the mesoporous electrodes. This study investigates the use of microwave (MW) plasma treatments as a rapid, energy efficient processing technique for the sintering of the metal oxide particles. A comparison is made with conventional furnace treatments for the sintering of TiO2 nanoparticles (Degussa P25), deposited onto fluorine doped tin oxide (FTO) coated glass substrates. Subsequent to the TiO2 sintering, ruthenium based dye (N719) adsorption studies were carried out for coatings heated using both sintering techniques. Based on UV/Vis absorption spectra measurements of 5 mins plasma and 30 mins furnace sintering, it was observed that both sintering techniques exhibited similar levels of dye adsorption. A decrease in the level of dye adsorption was observed for the TiO2 coatings sintered for longer periods (up to 10 mins in this study). This change with longer plasma treatment times was associated with rutile grain growth and a decrease in surface roughness, possibly due to a densification of the mesoporous structure. The effect of TiO2 coating plasma treatment times on the conversion efficiency of the dye sensitised electrodes was also evaluated. Plasma treatments of 5 mins were found to yield the highest conversion efficiency of 6.4%.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2012

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  • Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.
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