Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
  • Publication
    Application of a novel microwave plasma treatment for the sintering of nickel oxide coatings for use in dye-sensitized solar cells
    In this study the use of microwave plasma sintering of nickel oxide (NiOx) particles for use as p-type photoelectrode coatings in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) is investigated. NiOx was chosen as the photocathode for this application due to its stability, wide band gap and p-type nature. For high light conversion efficiency DSSCs require a mesoporous structure exhibiting a high surface area. This can be achieved by sintering particles of NiOx onto a conductive substrate. In this study the use of both 2.45 GHz microwave plasma and conventional furnace sintering were compared for the sintering of the NiOx particles. Coatings 1 to 2.5 μm thick were obtained from the sintered particles (mean particle size of 50 nm) on 3 mm thick fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO) coated glass substrates. Both the furnace and microwave plasma sintering treatments were carried out at ~ 450 °C over a 5 minute period. Dye sensitization was carried out using Erythrosin B and the UV-vis absorption spectra of the NiOx coatings were compared. A 44% increase in the level of dye adsorption was obtained for the microwave plasma sintered samples as compared to that obtained through furnace treatments. While the photovoltaic performance of the DSSC fabricated using the microwave plasma treated NiOx coatings exhibited a tenfold increase in the conversion efficiency in comparison to the furnace treated samples. This enhanced performance was associated with the difference in the mesoporous structure of the sintered NiOx coatings.
      2416Scopus© Citations 44
  • Publication
    Achieving enhanced DSSC performance by microwave plasma incorporation of carbon into TiO2 photoelectrodes
    The photoactivity of carbon-incorporated titanium dioxide (TiO2) has been widely reported. This study involves a novel approach to the incorporation of carbon into TiO2 through the use of microwave plasma processing. The process involved thermally treating printed TiO2 nanoparticle coatings in a microwave-induced argon-oxygen plasma containing low concentrations of methane. The resulting deposited carbon layer was characterized using XRD, XPS, Raman, UV–vis, ellipsometry, and optical profilometry. It was found that the methane gas was dissociated in the microwave plasma into its carbon species, which were then deposited as a nm-thick layer onto the TiO2 coatings, most likely in the form of graphite. The photovoltaic performances of both the TiO2 and the carbon-incorporated TiO2 were assessed through J-V and IPCE measurements of the N719-sensitized solar cells using the titania as their photoanodes. Up to a 72% improvement in the maximum power density (Pd-max) was observed for the carbon-incorporated TiO2 samples as compared to the TiO2, onto which no carbon was added. This improvement was found to be mainly associated with an increase in the short-circuit current density (Jsc), but independent from the open-circuit voltage (Voc), the filter factor (FF), and the level of dye adsorption. Possible contributory factors to the improved performance of the carbon-incorporated TiO2 were the enhanced electron conductivity and electron lifetime, both of which were elucidated through electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). When the surface layer was examined using XPS, the optimal carbon content on the TiO2 coating surface was found to be 8.4%, beyond which there was a reduction in the DSSC efficiency.
      603Scopus© Citations 16
  • Publication
    Deposition and characterization of NiOx coatings by magnetron sputtering for application in dye-sensitized solar cells
    Nickel oxide (NiOx) due to its p-type nature has considerable potential as a photocathodic material in energy conversion devices such as dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). However,NiOx has not been extensively used for this application mainly because of low light harvesting efficiency due to limited dye loading on the coatings. In this study NiOx coatings were deposited using the dc- magnetron sputtering technique from a nickel target in an argon/oxygen plasma. One of the advantages of magnetron sputtering is the ability to control coating properties such as mechanical performance and chemical stoichiometry. It is anticipated that by enhancing the interconnectivity between NiOx particles and by optimizing surface roughness, it may be possible to enhance dye adsorption and increase its ability to absorb visible light. NiOx coatings were deposited onto both silicon wafer and indium tin oxide (ITO) covered glass substrates. The influence of deposition parameters such as pressure, nickel target current and substrate bias voltage were correlated with the coating properties of surface roughness, thickness, crystallographic structure and surface energy. This evaluation was carried out using optical profilometry, spectroscopic ellipsometry, XRD and contact angle measurements respectively. It was observed that deposited coating morphology and roughness were significantly influenced by the deposition parameters. For example increasing the deposition pressure from 0.20 to 0.40 Pa led to an increase in surface roughness (Ra) from 1.6 to 3 nm. Associated with this increase in roughness the surface energy increased from 36 to 61 mN/mm. The NiOx coatings were spectrally sensitized with Rucomplex dye containing -COOH groups as anchoring moieties. The dye adsorptions on NiOx coatings, deposited on ITO substrates, were investigated in transmission mode using UV-vis spectroscopy in the range of 400 – 800 nm. It was observed that for the coatings with the highest surface energy, there was an increase of up to 60 % in the level of dye adsorption. The electroactivity of the NiOx thin films deposited on Ni substrate at 0.4 Pa has been verified through the occurrence of redox processes of reduction and lithium intercalation within the oxide film.
      7258Scopus© Citations 58
  • Publication
    A TD-DFT study of the effects of structural variations on the photochemistry of polyene dyes
    We report a TD-DFT study of three polyene dyes namely: NKX-2553, NKX-2554 and NKX-2569 in isolation as well as upon their adsorption on TiO2 nanoparticles. By choosing closely related dyes we wish to focus on the effects of structural variations on the absorption and charge-transfer properties of these systems. These three dyes show a non-intuitive trend in their respective efficiencies and therefore, were chosen to shed light on the structural components that contribute to this behaviour. Although, NKX-2554 has an additional donor group, it is less efficient compared to the simpler NKX-2553 dye that contains only one donor group. When NKX-2554 structure is slightly modified by lengthening the linker-group, one obtains the most efficient dye among this set, namely, NKX-2569. In this work, we show that the changes in the donor moiety has very little or no effect on the efficiency of these dyes as can be seen in the case of NKX-2553 and NKX-2554. On the other hand, the improved performance of NKX-2569-titania complex can be understood to be a result of the longer linker group. A better understanding of these properties within different dye-titania complexes is important for the continual improvement of DSSCs. In this regards, this study will serve to provide guidelines to improve efficiencies of novel organic dyes.
      792Scopus© Citations 39