Photoelectrochemical devices for solar energy conversion and shielding

Research activities have been structured to deal with practically all the most meaningful aspects concerning fabrication technologies and cell architectures as well as to provide an accurate analysis of both the electric and electrochemical key features of a dye solar cell (DSC) [1].

The main scientific objects assigned to the ongoing R&D activities on DSCs @ IIT-CBN are:

  • Development of highly efficient nanostructured photoelectrodes based on shape-tailored TiO2-nanocrystals [2-3]. Such engineered architecture allowed us to obtain a power conversion efficiency higher than 10% and showed a remarkable improvement in energy conversion efficiency with respect to conventional/commercial TiO2 nanoparticles.
  • Development of cost-effective and high-performance flexible nanocomposite plates based on the implementation of engineered carbon nanotubes with the purpose to develop suitable flexible and low cost plates to be effectively used as free-standing counter-electrodes in dye solar cells [4].
  • Synthesis of highly stable quasi-solid electrolytes for DSC based on properly functionalized ionically conductive polymers capable to ensure an excellent thermal end chemical stability [5].
  • Development of smart multifunctional devices capable to integrate two compatible working principles in a single device. In particular, a pivotal strategy is represented by the integration of photovoltaic and photoelectrochromic functionalities within a single cell, namely a photovoltachromic cell [6]. Such a class of devices may potentially act as an artificial skin, by "perceiving" even small variations in external radiation, and responsively controlling the energy fluxes by means of a smart variation of their optical transmittance. This also means that no external electric bias is required, as light itself generates the electric input while oxidizing the dye.

Relevant IIT publications:

  1. Giannuzzi R., et al. "A new electrical model for the analysis of a partially shaded dye-sensitized solar cells module" PROG. PHOTOV.: RES. & APPL., 2012, DOI: 10.1002/pip.2219
  2. De Marco L et al. "High-quality photoelectrodes based on shape-tailored TiO2 nanocrystals for dye solar cells". J. MAT. CHEM. 2011 , 21, 13371-13379
  3. De Marco L., et al "Novel preparation method of TiO2-nanorods-based photoelectrodes for dye-sensitized solar cells with improved light harvesting efficiency" J. PHYS. CHEM. C. , 2010, 114 (9), pp 4228–4236
  4. Malara F., et al. "A free-standing aligned-carbon-nanotubes/nanocomposite foil as efficient counter electrode for dye solar cells", 2012, EN. & ENV. SCI., DOI: 10.1039/c2ee21569a
  5. De Gregorio G.L., et al. "Highly stable gel electrolytes for dye solar cells based on chemically engineered polymethacrylic hosts" CHEM COMM., 2012, 48, 3109-3111
  6. Cannavale A., et al. "Highly efficient smart photovoltachromic devices with tailored electrolyte composition". ENERGY ENVIRON. SCI., 2011, 4, 2567-2574
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