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Keywords:

  • Electrolytes;
  • Gels;
  • Sol–gels;
  • Solar cells, dye-sensitized

Abstract

Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are receiving considerable attention as low-cost alternatives to conventional solar cells. In DSSCs based on liquid electrolytes, a photoelectric efficiency of 11 % has been achieved, but potential problems in sealing the cells and the low long-term stability of these systems have impeded their practical use. Here, we present a thermoplastic gel electrolyte (TPGE) as an alternative to the liquid electrolytes used in DSSCs. The TPGE exhibits a thermoplastic character, high conductivity, long-term stability, and can be prepared by a simple and convenient protocol. The viscosity, conductivity, and phase state of the TPGE can be controlled by tuning the composition. Using 40 wt % poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) as the polymeric host, 60 wt % propylene carbonate (PC) as the solvent, and 0.65 M KI and 0.065 M I2 as the ionic conductors, a TPGE with a conductivity of 2.61 mS cm–2 is prepared. Based on this TPGE, a DSSC is fabricated with an overall light-to-electrical-energy conversion efficiency of 7.22 % under 100 mW cm–2 irradiation. The present findings should accelerate the widespread use of DSSCs.