Nanoporous zinc oxide films can be prepared by electrochemical co-deposition with the dye eosin Y (EY) as template. A subsequent desorption of the dye with aqueous KOH is a key step for the increased efficiency of such dye sensitized solar cells (DSSC). In this contribution, the partial dissolving and reorganization of the zinc oxide film during the desorption step has been studied in detail by X-ray diffraction, Kelvin probe force microscopy, and atomic force microscopy (AFM) as well as scanning electron microscopy. It is found that the reorganization leads to an enhancement of crystal orientation and a reduction of the defect concentration at the surface of zinc oxide, being a possible reason for suppressed recombination of electrons in these films. Also, an increased defect concentration in ZnO was found when co-deposited with EY. For these co-deposited films, AFM investigations showed a coverage of the surface with dye aggregates. High resolution AFM investigations revealed the nanocrystalline and highly porous structure of the inorganic matrix after desorption of the dye.
Photographs of the organic/inorganic hybrid thin film material were investigated in this study. Left side: film directly after deposition, right side: after desorption of the organic dye.