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Cyril Aumaitre

Synthesis and studies of visible-near infrared absorbing organic materials for hybrid solar cells

Published on 20 October 2017
Thesis presented October 20, 2017

On a global scale, the share of renewable energies in the energy mix is constantly increasing. Based on the principle of photosynthesis, Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells are an emerging technology for Building Integration Photovoltaic (BIPV). These hybrid cells use an inorganic semiconductor oxide whose surface is covered with an organic dye. The absorption of the incident light by this dye will cause the injection of an electron from the photo-excited state of the molecule into the conduction band of the oxide. A redox mediator present in the electrolyte will regenerate the oxidized dye and generate a current under illumination. The dyes already described in the literature shows efficiencies reaching 14%. On the other hand, very few of these materials can absorb up to the near infrared range (NIR) (700-1000 nm). Thereby, the absorption of the NIR spectral range could lead to a greater photo-generated current density. In this context, this work presents a complete study of new panchromatic dyes extending into the near infrared range. For this study, the "donor-acceptor" approach was used to obtain the desired optoelectronic properties. A first family based on benzothiadiazole derivatives has been developed leading to very good absorption properties in the NIR region (absorption up to 925 nm). The optical, electrochemical and photovoltaic properties of these materials have been studied in order to understand the limitations for solar cell applications. Following this, a new dye family based on isoindigo derivatives was synthesized and studied by UV-Visible spectroscopy, electrochemistry and DFT simulation. These compounds strongly absorbs in the UV-visible and NIR spectral range up to 848 nm. The dyeing bath composition and the electrolyte formulation were optimized in order to obtain a device conversion efficiency of 5.76%. Photophysical measurements have allowed us to have a fine understanding of the limiting factors of these dyes. On the basis of this observation, we improved the structure of one of the dye and with this new molecule we reached a power conversion efficiency of 7.0% with a UV-Visible and near infrared absorption for the solar cell. In the last part of this work we have also obtained preliminary results employing various alternative materials to the TiO2/iodine system.

Dye, Organic chemistry, Solar cell, Devices

On-line thesis.