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Clean Power "Michael Grätzel holding one of his dye-sensitized solar cells."
Image Credit: © Alain Herzog/EPFL

Published on July 15th, 2013 | by James Ayre

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Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells Achieve Record Efficiency Of 15%



This article was first published on Green Building Elements.

A new efficiency record for dye-sensitized solar cells has been achieved by researchers at EPFL in Switzerland — the new record of 15% has now been achieved thanks to a new fabrication process created by the researchers.

"Michael Grätzel holding one of his dye-sensitized solar cells." Image Credit: © Alain Herzog/EPFL

“Michael Grätzel holding one of his dye-sensitized solar cells.”
Image Credit: © Alain Herzog/EPFL



Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are a very promising type of solar cell — largely as a result of their relatively low-cost, transparency, and relatively high power conversion efficiencies under cloudy and artificial light conditions. Until this new breakthrough, though, they had fallen short of conventional silicon-based solar cells with regard to overall efficiency — but this was primarily just as a result of “the inherent voltage loss during the regeneration of the sensitizing dye,” something which could certainly be addressed, as it now has been.

The press release from EPFL provides details:

EPFL scientists have developed a state solid version of the DSSC that is fabricated by a new two-step process raising their efficiency up to a record 15% without sacrificing stability.

The new solid-state embodiment of the DSSC uses a perovskite material as a light harvester and an organic hole transport material to replace the cell’s electrolyte. Typical fabrication of this new DSSC involves depositing a perovskite material directly onto a metal-oxide film. The problem is that adding the entire material together often causes wide variation in the morphology and the efficiency of the resulting solar cell, which makes it difficult to use them in everyday applications.

Michael Grätzel’s team at EPFL has now solved the problem with a two-step approach: First, one part of the perovskite is deposited in to the pores of the metal-oxide scaffold. Second, the deposited part is exposed to a solution that contains the other component of the perovskite. When the two parts come into contact, they react instantaneously and convert into the complete light-sensitive pigment, permitting much better control over the morphology of the solar cell.

Thanks to the new process, the record power-conversion efficiency for DSSCs has climbed to an impressive 15% — which exceeds the power conversion efficiencies of conventional, amorphous silicon-based solar cells. The researchers think that their work will likely “open a new era of DSSC development, featuring stability and efficiencies that equal or even surpass today’s best thin-film photovoltaic devices.”

Sounds good. :)

The new findings were published in the journal Nature.

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • argh

    the photo is misleading, because the 15% cell was…well, a cell, that is, a small area (maybe 1 cm^2 at best) device. That module can have maybe 8 % efficiency

  • Bob_Wallace

    Looking at the photo, I wouldn’t call that panel “transparent”. It’s clearly blocking some light.

    Stacking layers of different wavelength sensitivity is an interesting idea. It would cut down on BOS costs and average panel surface reflection over all layers.

    Seems like it would be easy to determine what wavelengths are getting through in and in what quantities.

  • Shades of White (Light)

    I think this is only sensitive to certain parts of the spectrum, allowing the other parts of the visible light spectrum through. Absorbed spectrum probably specific to the chemicals used. a different chemical layer to absorb different wavelength(s) would be needed and once developed, likely to be built into one unit, rather than multiple cells.

  • GazzerG

    If the DSSC’s are transparent and can achieve 15% efficiency, could you then place another call behind the transparent layer and increase the output further?

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