• electrochemistry;
  • electron transfer;
  • energy conversion;
  • surface chemistry;
  • zinc stannate


Among ternary oxides, Zn2SnO4 (ZSO) is considered for dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) because of its wide bandgap, high optical transmittance, and high electrical conductivity. However, ZSO-based DSSCs have a poor performance record owing largely to the absence of systematic efforts to enhance their performance. Herein, general strategies are proposed to improve the performance of ZSO-based DSSCs involving interfacial engineering/modification of the photoanode. A conformal ZSO thin film (blocking layer) deposited at the fluorine-doped tin oxide–electrolyte interface by pulsed laser deposition suppressed the back-electron transfer effectively while maintaining a high optical transmittance, which resulted in a 22 % improvement in the short-circuit photocurrent density. Surface modification of ZSO nanoparticles (NPs) resulted in an ultrathin ZnO shell layer, a 9 % improvement in the open-circuit voltage, and a 4 % improvement in the fill factor because of the reduced electron recombination at the ZSO NPs–electrolyte interface. The ZSO-based DSSCs exhibited a faster charge injection and electron transport than their TiO2-based counterparts, and their superior properties were not inhibited by the ZnO shell layer, which indicates their feasibility for highly efficient DSSCs. Each interfacial engineering strategy could be applied to the ZSO-based DSSC independently to lead to an improved conversion efficiency of 6 %, a very high conversion efficiency for a non-TiO2 based DSSC.