Minimizing Structural Deformation of Gold Nanorods in Plasmon-Enhanced Dye-sensitized Solar Cells

Björn Törngren, Simon Sandén, Johan Nyman, Armi Tiihonen, Hua Jiang, Janne Ruokolainen, Janne Halme, Ronald Österbacka, Jan-Henrik Smått

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Plasmonic metal nanoparticles have shown great promise in enhancing the light absorption of organic dyes and thus improving the performance of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). However, as the plasmon resonance of spherical nanoparticles is limited to a single wavelength maximum (e.g., ~ 520 nm for Au nanoparticles), we have here utilized silica-coated gold nanorods (Au@SiO2 NRs) to improve the performance at higher wavelengths as well. By adjusting the aspect ratio of the Au@SiO2 NRs, we can shift their absorption maxima to better match the absorption spectrum of the utilized dye (here we targeted the 600–800 nm range). The main challenge in utilizing anisotropic nanoparticles in DSSCs is their deformation during the heating step required to sinter the mesoporous TiO2 photoanode and we show that the Au@SiO2 NRs start to deform already at temperatures as low as 200 °C. In order to circumvent this problem, we incorporated the Au@SiO2 NRs in a TiO2 nanoparticle suspension that does not need high sintering temperatures to produce a functional photoanode. With various characterization methods, we observed that adding the plasmonic particles also affected the structure of the produced films. Nonetheless, utilizing this low-temperature processing protocol, we were able to minimize the structural deformation of the gold nanorods and preserve their characteristic plasmon peaks. This allowed us to see a clear redshift of the maximum in the incident photon-to-current efficiency spectra of the plasmonic devices (Δλ ~ 14 nm), which further proves the great potential of utilizing Au@SiO2 NRs in DSSCs.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Surface plasmon resonance
  • Low-temperature processing
  • Dye-sensitized solar cells
  • Energy conversion
  • Deformation
  • Thin-film photovoltaics
  • Gold nanorods

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