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Insight into Interface Engineering at TiO2/Dye through Molecularly Functionalized Caf1 Biopolymer

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Yakup Ulusu, Dr Helen WallerORCiD, Professor Jeremy LakeyORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by American Chemical Society, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2017 American Chemical Society. The fast charge recombination kinetics and poor sensitizing ability in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) result in a significant electron loss and performance degradation. However, the retarding of electron recombination and/or increasing light-harvesting efficiency (LHE) via employing an appropriate interface modifier in DSSCs has rarely been investigated. Here, we first report a molecularly engineered Caf1 protein (both in monomeric and polymeric forms) to modify the surface states by effectively shielding the unfavorable reactions and improve the light absorption properties by introducing alternative anchoring facilities. Using the novel Caf1 biopolymer with high thermal stability (even at 90 °C), we achieved an unprecedented efficiency of 8.31% under standard illumination test conditions and maintain the output performance even under prolonged irradiation. Time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy measurement reveals an improved electron transfer rate (kET = 0.26 to 0.98 × 108 s-1), whereas the Voc decay rate is lower (70% decay in 90 s) for Caf1-P@TiO2 based cells than that of bare ones (∼85% decay in <10 s). We attributed this trend to the presence of chains in the biopolymer structure and the enhanced population of binding facilities with sensitizer molecules, promoting rapid charge transfer into TiO2 and enhanced dye-loading capability. Our results shed light on the interface engineering, and this novel Caf1 biopolymer offers a meaningful transfer of energy to develop efficient electrochemical cells with attractive properties for scale up and practical applications.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Akin S, Ulusu Y, Waller H, Lakey JH, Sonmezoglu S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering

Year: 2018

Volume: 6

Issue: 2

Pages: 1825-1836

Print publication date: 05/02/2018

Online publication date: 21/12/2017

Acceptance date: 12/11/2017

Date deposited: 13/03/2018

ISSN (electronic): 2168-0485

Publisher: American Chemical Society


DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.7b03206


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