Biomass-Derived Nitrogen-Doped Carbon Aerogel Counter Electrodes for Dye Sensitized Solar Cells

Butt MTZ, Preuss K, Titirici M-M, Rehman HU and Briscoe J

Materials (Basel)  vol. 11, (7) , 2018

Dye sensitized solar cells have emerged as an attractive alternative to conventional solar cells due to their easy processing and the abundance and low cost of their materials. However, the counter electrode in these cells employs platinum which significantly impacts their cost. Here, we report biomass-derived, nitrogen-doped carbon aerogel as an effective alternative to conventional platinum-based counter electrodes for dye sensitized solar cells. A stable suspension of biomass-derived, nitrogen-doped carbon aerogel was prepared in DMF by using oleylamine as a binder. The nitrogen-doped carbon aerogel electrode was annealed at different temperatures, and its impact on photovoltaic performance is investigated. I-V measurements confirm that the annealing temperature substantially enhances the photovoltaic parameters of these devices; these enhancements are linked to the removal of the organic binders. Electrochemical impedance spectra of the counter electrodes confirm that removal of oleylamine in nitrogen-doped carbon aerogels reduces the series resistance of the resulting electrodes. The power conversion efficiency of the solar cells from optimized nitrogen-doped carbon aerogel exhibited comparable efficiency to that of a cell fabricated using a platinum-based counter electrode. This study demonstrates the potential of biomass-derived carbon aerogels as a cheap and sustainable replacement of platinum in DSSCs.

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