Dye sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) offer a cheaper, more easily mass-produced alternative to silicon cells. Such cells are made from thin sandwiched layers of conductive glass, titanium dioxide, dye, and an iodide electrolyte. Our goal was to construct and test our own DSSCs. We tested cells for spectral response, current-voltage curves (maximum power and efficiency), and short circuit current in direct sunlight, with the goal of improving cell lifetimes and efficiencies. The project encountered a few problems along the way, such as low efficiencies, leaking electrolyte, short lifespan, and bleaching of solar cells by UV rays. We examined each component of the cell construction separately in order to overcome these problems. To improve efficiencies, we first purified the raspberry dye and then switched to a commercially available Ruthenium dye. Sealing gaskets prevented the electrolyte from evaporating or seeping out, which improved the lifetime of the cells. Also, we compared different application processes for titanium dioxide. Future research with this project should focus on finding a consistent method to quantify cell performance, continuing to improve cell construction, and possibly constructing a working electrochemical impedance spectroscopy test.
Lucas Jorgensen, ’08 Sioux City, IA
Majors: Physics, Economics and Business
Julia Kamenetzky, ’08 Bettendorf, IA
Logan Squiers, ’07 Marshalltown, IA
Majors: Physics, Biology
Sponsors: Kara Beauchamp, Lyle Lichty, Derin Sherman