In Focus: Dye-sensitized Solar Cells (DSSCs)
Belonging to the family of thin film solar cells, dye-sensitizedsolar cells (DSSCs) are an attractive and a considerably cheaper way ofproducing electricity. A DSSC is designed like a traditional alkalinebattery and does not require a cumbersome manufacturing process. It ismade up of a titanium dioxide nano particles layer, that is porous. This layer is covered with a molecular dye that can absorb sunlight, and issubmerged in an electrolyte solution with a platinum-based catalystabove it.
When sunlight passes through the cell and reaches the dyelayer, it activates electrons, which then enter the titanium dioxidelayer. Then these electrons flow towards the transparent electrode andget collected in order to power a load. The electrons flow through theexternal circuit and then re-enter the cell on a metal electrode on theback to flow into the electrolyte, which then transports them back tothe dye molecules.
The technology used in DSSCs, which are also known as pseudo-photosynthetic solar cells, is being worked upon by Sony for almost a decade now. It offers a variety of advantages for itsconsumers by providing many options to them. One of the most importantadvantages is their low cost. Also, it comes in a large number offascinating designs and colors, to perfectly match one’s decor.
These solar cells are light in weight, which makes them ideal for use inportable devices such as solar lampshades. These DSSCs come in variousshades and designs, which add to the overall beauty of the product. Sony states that these cells can have different designer patterns on top ofthem that can be made using the process of Screen Printing.
DSSCs are loaded with a number ofadvantages. Considered to be the most efficient thin-film low-densitycells, they overcome the limitations of other similar technologies.
DSSCs are used to inject an electron directly into the titanium dioxidelayer. They have better sensitivity to visible light, be it natural orartificial, making them usable and much more reliable for generation ofelectricity under a variety of weather conditions. Since they have thecapacity to generate electricity from any amount of sunlight, highperformance is achieved under indoor and low light settings. Its makersclaim that even if the angle at which light hits the surface of the cell is changed, it would have negligible effect on performance. These cells can easily be termed as Gen-Y cells and have a wide scope in future for its consumers.
However, they might not fit well for large scale use if put alone. A small enhancement in the DSSC conversion efficiency might make them suitable for some of such large scale roles as well.
One of the biggest disadvantages of DSSCs is their fragility brought aboutby changes in temperature. Since they use liquid electrolytes, they canfreeze in low temperatures and also expand at higher degrees. Thefreezing can lead to an end of power production potentially leading tophysical damage. Also, the solution used in the DSSC contains volatileorganic solvents. The breakage can lead to serious problems and so thesealing of the panels should be checked carefully. On the other hand,expanding results in leaking of panels which can result into potentialinstability, drawback of maximum operation temperature, possible dangerof evaporation, and the added cost of forming an electrical seriesconnection. So consumers should decide appropriately before placing ofthe cell and making it the sole supplier of electricity at home.Researchers are currently trying to find out a way to use solidifiedmaterial in the cell to overcome the above problems.
The DSSCs have created an awesome impact on people because of variousfeatures like low cost, attractive designs and colors and also becausethey are light in weight. These cells can also be converted intoflexible sheets needing no protection from minor happenings like treestrikes. Despite any drawbacks, DSSCs are anytime a better option forgenerating electricity than the depleting fossil fuels.
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