11-Jul-2008 - Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

Copper: An element of surprise

Researchers in Switzerland have developed efficient copper-functionalised dye-sensitized solar cells as an alternative to ruthenium-functionalised systems.

Edwin Constable and colleagues at the University of Basel, and at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, in Switzerland, have synthesised carboxylate-derivatized copper complexes as dye stuffs for TiO2 dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs).

The conversion of light to electricity is an important issue and there are two technologies of primary interest in the construction of photovoltaic cells. The first is based on silicon and the second on dye-modified semiconductor surfaces. The DSSCs reported in this work have surprisingly high incident photon to current efficiencies and therefore could be viable alternatives to the more expensive ruthenium-based systems.

Photovoltaic devices based on dye-modified semiconductor surfaces have efficiencies approaching silicon and are therefore attractive alternatives, but traditionally utilise ruthenium dye-stuffs which are both expensive and rare. Constable and his team have therefore investigating copper(I) complexes with oligopyridine ligands which possess similar photophysical properties to ruthenium dyes, and have discovered the resultant prototype devices are surprisingly efficient.

The motivation behind this work is to help solve the approaching crisis in energy requirement in the world. By developing relatively cheap dyes for photovoltaic devices, Constable and co-workers hope to provide the basis for an attractive alternative to traditional energy sources.

'The potential for tuning the dyes to give device efficiencies approaching that of ruthenium-based systems will be a driver in our future research and the greatest challenge lies in the scale-up of the dye and device construction,' said Constable.

Original publication: Edwin Constable et al., Chem. Commun., 2008

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about Royal Society of Chemistry
  • News

    New coating is self-defence for seeds

    Scientists in Switzerland have developed a protective coating for seeds that poisons pests with cyanide when they bite into it. The coating is a system of two layers and only becomes toxic when the layers are mixed, eliminating the problem of environmental contamination that is associated w ... more

    Using bacteria to make electrodes

    Scientists in France have produced hematite using a bacterial pathway for use as an electrode material in Li-ion technologies. Currently, most commercial electrode materials for Li-ion technologies are prepared using the ceramic method, which requires long heating periods at high temperatur ... more

    Marine plant replacement for platinum in solar cells

    An international research team has shown that that the power conversion efficiency of sea tangle extract is comparable to platinum in solar cell electrodes. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) are quickly becoming a widespread and affordable alternative to photovoltaic solar cells. The electr ... more

  • Videos

    Royal Society of Chemistry – About us

    With more than 51,000 members and an international publishing and knowledge business we are the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists, supporting and representing our members and bringing together chemical scientists from all over the world. more

    A career in toxicology

    Hear from RSC member Vicki Stone talk about her role as a Nanotoxicologist. more

    When Food met Pharma: Delivery Strategies for Nutraceuticals

    With growing prevalence of lifestyle-associated diseases, including obesity, Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease, there is an urgent need and demand to try to prevent the onset of these diseases within our growing population. Nutraceuticals, along with appropriate diet and exercise, ... more

  • Companies

    Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

    The RSC is a leading international publisher of highly regarded journals and books in the chemical sciences. The RSC is also the professional body for chemists with a global membership of over 46,000. more

More about Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • News

    A new approach for recycling plastics

    Each human being uses, on average, 30 kg of plastic per year. Given that global life expectancy currently stands at approximately 70 years, each person will discard some two metric tons of plastic in his or her lifetime. Multiply that by the number people on earth – which is growing constan ... more

    “Bite” defects in bottom-up graphene nanoribbons

    Scientists at Empa and EPFL have identified a new type of defect as the most common source of disorder in on-surface synthesized graphene nanoribbons, a novel class of carbon-based materials that may prove extremely useful in next-generation electronic devices. The researchers identified th ... more

    Carbyne – an unusual form of carbon

    Which photophysical properties does carbyne have? This was the subject of research carried out by scientists at FAU, the University of Alberta, Canada, and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, which has led to a greater understanding of the properties of this unusual ... more

  • Videos

    Water generates electricity (with a pinch of salt!)

    EPFL researchers have developed a system that generates electricity from osmosis with unparalleled efficiency. Their work, featured in "Nature", uses seawater, fresh water, and a new type of membrane just three atoms thick. more

    Stretchable electronics that quadruple in length

    EPFL researchers have developed conductive tracks that can be bent and stretched up to four times their original length. They could be used in artificial skin, connected clothing and on-body sensors. more

More about Universität Basel
  • News

    How mercury gets into the sea

    Mercury released into the atmosphere by industry enters the sea and from there makes its way into the food chain. Now, an analysis by the University of Basel has revealed how the harmful substance enters seawater in the first place. This is not primarily via rainfall, as previously assumed, ... more

    Manganese could make luminescent materials and the conversion of sunlight more sustainable

    University of Basel researchers have reached an important milestone in their quest to produce more sustainable luminescent materials and catalysts for converting sunlight into other forms of energy. Based on the cheap metal manganese, they have developed a new class of compounds with promis ... more

    Infrared Held in a Pincer

    Many applications, from fiber-optic telecommunications to biomedical imaging processes require substances that emit light in the near-infrared range (NIR). A research team in Switzerland has now developed the first chromium complex that emits light in the coveted, longer wavelength NIR-II r ... more