Project Report

Research Summary Report Electrophoretic Deposition of Fluorine-Doped Tin Oxide nanosized arrays on flexible substrates for dye-sensitized solar cells Flexible solar cells have attracted attention due to their low weight and ability to be shaped in irregular forms, which makes them easier to be incorporated into the design of buildings and other power-consuming objects. Traditionally, dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) have been constructed using films of titanium dioxide nanoparticles as the photoanode. Alternative nano-semiconductor materials have been recently explored. Nanotube and nanorod structures have been suggested to have properties that enhance photoelectrochemical properties, especially because these structures are expected to have orders of magnitude faster electron transfer. Fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO) is an important player in making electron transport fast. FTO is often used to coat plastic or glass substrates to make them highly conductive while keeping these transparent. Nanorods are obtained by forcing FTO nanoparticles into templates that sit on the substrate. The substrates are then fired at 600-800?C to leave the nanorods in place without the surrounding membrane. However, the applicability of nanorod deposition techniques to flexible DSCs is hampered by these high temperatures. Flexible substrates (e.g. polymers) are able to resist temperatures of up to 150 degrees C. Therefore, it has been proposed that using different solvents and experimental settings could produce these nano-structures without burning the substrate or dissolving the plastic substrate. In my stay at the Liu lab I learned how to synthesize the needed FTO nanoparticles. Two methods were used, namely, those described by Kawashima and Russo. The main difference between the methods is that the former uses ultrasonication whereas the latter uses 60?C oil bath and stirring. Russo’s method was unsuccessful in achieving a well-dispersed solution whereas Kawashima’s produced a clear and stable solution. Both methods were further analyzed by Dinamic Light scattering (DLS) and it was found that Kawashima’s method produces more particles in the nanoscale range (1-10nm) than Russo’s. Additionally, small nanorods were synthesized on plastic substrates as noted by Scanning Electron Microscopy. Polycarbonate membranes, which served as template to grow the rods were dissolved by Chlorophorm. The outcome of the project was great and the goals were fulfilled.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA)
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Carter Kimsey
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Correa Juan P
United States
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