Linker dependence of interfacial electron transfer rates in Fe(II)-polypyridine sensitized solar cells

David N. Bowman, Sriparna Mukherjee, Lyndsay J. Barnes, Elena Jakubikova

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22 Scopus citations


Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) convert solar energy to electricity employing dye molecules attached to a semiconductor surface. Some of the most efficient DSSCs use Ru-based chromophores. Fe-based dyes represent a cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to these expensive and toxic dyes. The photoactive state of Fe-based chromophores responsible for charge-separation at the dye-semiconductor interface is, however, deactivated on a sub-picosecond time scale via the intersystem crossing (ISC) into a manifold of low-lying photo-inactive quintet states. Therefore, development of Fe-based dyes capable of fast interfacial electron transfer (IET) leading to efficient charge separation on a time scale competitive with the ISC events is important. This work investigates how linker groups anchoring a prototypical Fe-based dye [Fe(bpy-L)2(CN)2] (bpy = 2,2′-bipyridine, L = linker group) onto the TiO2 semiconductor surface influence the IET rates in the dye-semiconductor assemblies. Linker groups investigated include carboxylic acid, phosphonic acid, hydroxamate, catechol, and acetylacetonate. We employ time-dependent density functional theory (TD-DFT) to obtain absorption spectra of [Fe(bpy-L)2(CN)2] with each linker, and quantum dynamics simulations to investigate the IET rates between the dye and the (101) TiO2 anatase surface. For all attachments, TD-DFT calculations show similar absorption spectra with two main bands corresponding to the metal-to-ligand charge transfer transitions. The quantum dynamics simulations predict that the utilization of the hydroxamate linker instead of the commonly used carboxylic acid linker will lead to a more efficient IET and better photon-to-current conversion efficiencies in Fe(II)-polypyridine sensitized solar cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134205
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 10 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • Density functional theory
  • Dye-sensitized solar cell
  • Fe(II)-polypyridines
  • Interfacial electron transfer
  • Quantum dynamics


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