A.G. Vega-Poot, M. Macías-Montero, J. Idígoras, A. Borrás, A. Barranco, A.R. González-Elipe, F.I. Lizama-Tzec, G. Oskam, J.A. Anta
ChemPhysChem, 15 (2014) 1088-1097
ZnO is an attractive material for applications in dye-sensitized solar cells and related devices. This material has excellent electron-transport properties in the bulk but its electron diffusion coefficient is much smaller in mesoporous films. In this work the electron-transport properties of two different kinds of dye-sensitized ZnO nanostructures are investigated by small-perturbation electrochemical techniques. For nanoparticulate ZnO photoanodes prepared via a wet-chemistry technique, the diffusion coefficient is found to reproduce the typical behavior predicted by the multiple-trapping and the hopping models, with an exponential increase with respect to the applied bias. In contrast, in ZnO nanostructured thin films of controlled texture and crystallinity prepared via a plasma chemical vapor deposition method, the diffusion coefficient is found to be independent of the electrochemical bias. This observation suggests a different transport mechanism not controlled by trapping and electron accumulation. In spite of the quite different transport features, the recombination kinetics, the electron-collection efficiency and the photoconversion efficiency are very similar for both kinds of photoanodes, an observation that indicates that surface properties rather than electron transport is the main efficiency-determining factor in solar cells based on ZnO nanostructured photoanodes.