Conformal Nano-Sized Inorganic Coatings on Mesoporous TiO2 Films for Low-Temperature Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell Fabrication



Here, a new method based on sol–gel electrophoretic deposition to produce uniform high-quality inorganic conformal coatings on mesoporous nano-particulate films is presented. This novel sol preparation method allows for very fine control of the coating properties, thus inducing new adjustable functionalities to these electrodes. It is shown that the deposition of an amorphous TiO2 and/or MgO shell onto photoanodes used in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) improves their light-to-electric-power conversion efficiency without the need for sintering. It is proposed that the amorphous TiO2 coating improves the electronic inter-particle connection and passivates the surface states. The insulating MgO coating further reduces the electron transfer from the conduction band into the electrolyte while the electron injection from the excited dye state remains unperturbed for thin coatings. Using a low-temperature method for DSSC production on plastic substrates, a maximum efficiency of 6.2% applying pressure together with an optimized TiO2 coating is achieved. For systems that cannot be pressed a conversion efficiency of 5.1% is achieved using a double shell TiO2/MgO coating.