Master's Theses

Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Ilona Kretzachmar

Keywords

solar cells, ionic liquid, inverse opal

Abstract

Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) are low-cost alternatives to conventional solar cells that can work well in low-light conditions. Despite considerable study on improving the efficiency of DSSCs, the current liquid electrolyte cell has plateaued at a conversion efficiency of ~ 12%. A major problem with these cells regarding their applicability is the low viscosity and high volatility of the toxic electrolyte, i.e., acetonitrile, which cause leakage and volatilization. We propose that using ionic liquids (ILs), which are more viscous, less volatile, and conductive, may be more suitable electrolytes. However, one unwanted side effect of the higher viscosity of the ILs may be an incomplete infiltration of the DSSC’s nanoporous TiO2 electrode. Here, we present a study of DSSCs with TiO2 inverse opal electrodes of controlled pore sizes (0.1-1 m) and ionic liquid derivatives of 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate (alkyl: ethyl, butyl, and decyl) with viscosities ranging from 25.2 to 721 cP. The stability and functionality of the DSSCs is tested using electrochemical techniques that yield current-voltage and power curves.

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