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Excited State Charge Transfer in Dyads of ZnO Nanocrystals and Organic or Transition Metal Dyes

  • Julia E. Saunders (a1), Adam S. Huss (a2), Jon Bohnsack (a3), Kent R. Mann (a4), David A. Blank (a5) and Wayne L. L. Gladfelter (a6)...

Abstract

To better understand the specific charge transfer events that occur within a dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC), we synthesized well-defined ZnO:dye dyads. The ZnO nanocrystals were synthesized following literature procedures from zinc acetate and a hydroxide source in ethanol. The absorption onset of the ZnO nanocrystals was observed using UV-vis measurements, from which estimated nanocrystal diameters were determined. At room temperature, the synthesis yielded nanocrystals ranging in diameter from 2-4 nm. Dispersions of ZnO nanocrystals in ethanol were mixed with solutions containing 5΄΄-phenyl-3΄,4΄-di(nbutyl)-[2,2΄:5΄,2΄΄] terthiophene-5-carboxylic acid. Using FT-IR and fluorescence spectroscopy, it was verified that the dye molecules were adsorbed to the ZnO surface via their carboxylate groups while the number of dye molecules adsorbed to the surface was quantified using a combination of techniques. Adsorption isotherms were employed to probe surface coverage of the dye onto the nanocrystals to yield an adsorption equilibrium constant of 1.5 ± 0.2 x 105 M-1. The ability of ZnO nanocrystals to quench the emission of the dye by an electron transfer mechanism was observed and elucidated using ultra-fast laser spectroscopy where the time-scale for electron injection from the dye to the ZnO was determined to be 5.5 ps.

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