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Improved Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell (DSSC) for Higher Energy Conversion Efficiency

University of Colorado

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<em>DSSC schematic.</em>
DSSC schematic.

Technology Marketing Summary

A University of Colorado research group led by Rich Noble has developed a novel approach to dye-sensitized solar cells that increases solar-to-electrical energy conversion.


Typically, DSSCs contain two planar conducting electrodes separated by a mesoporous material such as titanium dioxide, which produce a high surface area to enhance light absorption of the dyes. In the improved model, the mesoporous material separating the two planar conducting electrodes is nearly doubled in thickness by adding a second porous layer, resulting in over double the energy conversion efficiency of a typical DSSC. Bilayer thickness optimization may result in even higher energy conversion. By using an intermediate, layered mesoporous electron collection material, the total electron transporting distance is shorter and thus results in a higher total current level.


Traditional solar cells are fabricated from semiconductor materials such as silicon. Silicon-based solar cells generally implement semiconductor layers to produce electron current by exploiting the photovoltaic effects that exist at semiconductor junctions. A second type of solar cell, known as a dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC), utilizes dye to absorb incoming light in order to produce excited electrons. DSSCs have advantages over silicon-based solar cells including device stability, low-cost fabrication, and a higher solar-to-electrical energy conversion. Dye-sensitized solar cells have a theoretical maximum energy conversion efficiency of 33%; however, due to technical constraints, the actual energy conversion efficiency of a DSSC is closer to 11%, which is less than half of the crystalline silicon-based solar cells efficiency of 24.4%. Improving DSSC efficiency is critical to widespread adoption of this technology.

More Information

Data Update:
The NSF recently funded further work by this group to refine cell structure and develop novel dyes. The proposed research will lead to better understanding of the structure-property relationships in multi-layered DSSCs, and may open up new approaches for the development of novel structure motifs for high-efficiency DSSCs.

Key Document:
“High Efficiency Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell With Layered Structures.” Patent application filed May 24, 2010; available under CDA.

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Application 20110284063
A dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) is provided. The DSSC anode includes a first electron-collecting layer deposited on a substrate and a first electron-transporting layer deposited on the first electron-collecting layer, the first electron-transporting layer containing light-absorbing dye. The DSSC anode also includes a second nanoporous electron-collecting layer deposited on the first electron-transporting layer; and a second electron-transporting layer deposited on the second porous electron-collecting layer, the second electron-transporting layer containing light-absorbing dye. Methods of fabricating the DSSC anode are also provided.
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

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To: Lola Underwood<>