Stability of the oxidized form of RuLL´(NCS)2 dyes in acetonitrile in the presence of water and pyridines: Why the dye-sensitized solar cell electrolyte should be dry

Torben Lund, Poul Erik Hansen, Jens Josephsen, Jacob Krake, John Mortensen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


The detrimental effect of electrolyte water contamination on the light-soaking lifetime of Dye-sensitized Solar Cells (DSCs) prepared with RuLL´(NCS)2 dyes and N-additives like 4-tert-butylpyridine (TBP) is not well understood. A new explanation is presented based on investigation of the stability of the ruthenium(III) complexes Ru(bipy)2(NCS)2+ (1+) and RuLL´(NCS)2+ ( L = 4,4´-dicarboxy-2,2´-bipyridine, L´= 4,4´-nonyl-2,2´-bipyridine) (Z907+) in acetonitrile in the presence of water and pyridines covering a large variation in basicity. 1+ reacts with small amounts of water in the acetonitrile containing a pyridine base (X) according to the overall reaction: 6 Ru(bipy)2(NCS)2+ + 4 H2O + 8 X  5 Ru(bipy)2(NCS)2 + Ru(bipy)2(NCS)(CN) + SO42- + 8 XH+. The reaction mechanism of 1+ (and Z907+) is proposed to be initiated by an attack of OH- giving Ru(bipy)2(NCS)(NCS-OH). The stronger the base the faster the reaction. Extrapolating the life time of Z907+ to a typical TBP concentration of 0.5 M in the DSC gives a degradation rate around 7 s-1. Z907+ bound to a layer of nano crystalline TiO2 surface reacted fast too, when inserted in an acetonitrile solution containing 4-tert-butylpyridine. In a “wet” electrolyte, containing more than 500 mM of water the light-soaking lifetime of a DSC prepared with Z907 is predicted to be about 10 days at out-door light soaking conditions, whereas trace amounts of water (< 25 mM) in a “dry” electrolyte is used up by consumption of only 10% of the Z907 in a typical DSC. Therefore, the DSC is expected to have a long light-soaking lifetime with a “dry” electrolyte
TidsskriftSolar Energy
Udgave nummer189
Sider (fra-til)235-243
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 1 sep. 2019

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