Aqueous Colloidal Stability Evaluated by Zeta Potential Measurement and Resultant TiO2 for Superior Photovoltaic Performance


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Controlling the morphological structure of titanium dioxide (TiO2) is crucial for obtaining superior power conversion efficiency for dye-sensitized solar cells. Although the sol–gel-based process has been developed for this purpose, there has been limited success in resisting the aggregation of nanostructured TiO2, which could act as an obstacle for mass production. Herein, we report a simple approach to improve the efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) by controlling the degree of aggregation and particle surface charge through zeta potential analysis. We found that different aqueous colloidal conditions, i.e., potential of hydrogen (pH), water/titanium alkoxide (titanium isopropoxide) ratio, and surface charge, obviously led to different particle sizes in the range of 10–500 nm. We have also shown that particles prepared under acidic conditions are more effective for DSSC application regarding the modification of surface charges to improve dye loading and electron injection rate properties. Power conversion efficiency of 6.54%, open-circuit voltage of 0.73 V, short-circuit current density of 15.32 mA/cm2, and fill factor of 0.73 were obtained using anatase TiO2 optimized to 10–20 nm in size, as well as by the use of a compact TiO2 blocking layer.