Novel High Efficiency Materials for Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSCs): An Aim at Commercialization within Canada

::Download Scientific Description::  ::Project Researchers and Highly Qualified Personnel::  ::Project Scientific Progress::  Among the myriad of advanced PV materials (e.g., organic bulk heterojunction devices, quantum dots), the “dye-sensitized solar cell” (DSSC) is one of the most mature technologies. Not only has the DSSC demonstrated the highest power conversion efficiencies (PCEs > 12%) within this class of PV materials, it also offers numerous advantages over conventional silicon and thin-film solar cells in that it does not require high-purity materials and is amenable to lower-cost processing techniques.

Group Photo for PROJECT7

left to right: Kiyoshi Robson (PDF – University of Calgary), and Professor Curtis Berlinguette (Project Leader – University of British Columbia).

The first commercial DSSC product was introduced in 2009 by G24i (Europe), and the current phase of commercialization involves the production of solar cells for small consumer products, such as cell phones and laptops. The next phase of development will inevitably involve the implementation of the DSSC as a built-in photovoltaic (BIPV) application. There are a number of factors that support the possibility of this occurring in the near term, including the insensitivity of the performance of the DSSC to the angle of incident radiation, clouds, and temperatures up to 80 °C.

A significant impediment to the implementation of DSSCs in commercial applications is device stability.

Figure: A non-volatile triarylamine liquid electrolyte is being developed for DSSC applications by Project 07 researchers and HQP.

While there have been modeling studies on test cells that forecast minimal cell deterioration over two decades, many DSSC products tend to degrade within unsatisfactorily short timescales. Another major shortcoming is that materials that are stable under practical operating conditions typically are confined to lower performance parameters.

The team of Bender and Berlinguette will address said limitations through the rational design synthesis and engineering of novel materials/compositions of matter. Berlinguette will develop a robust class of high performance ruthenium-based and metal-free dyes for conventional DSSC devices, while Bender will develop non-volatile and stable triarylamine liquid electrolytes for the DSSC. The team will make test cells with dyes and electrolytes to screen combinations that are viable for scale-up, with the longer term goal of developing dyes capable of harvesting more sunlight.