Edge-selenated graphene nanoplatelets as durable metal-free catalysts for iodine reduction reaction in dye-sensitized solar cells

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Science Advances  17 Jun 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 6, e1501459
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501459


Metal-free carbon-based electrocatalysts for dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are sufficiently active in Co(II)/Co(III) electrolytes but are not satisfactory in the most commonly used iodide/triiodide (I/I3) electrolytes. Thus, developing active and stable metal-free electrocatalysts in both electrolytes is one of the most important issues in DSSC research. We report the synthesis of edge-selenated graphene nanoplatelets (SeGnPs) prepared by a simple mechanochemical reaction between graphite and selenium (Se) powders, and their application to the counter electrode (CE) for DSSCs in both I/I3 and Co(II)/Co(III) electrolytes. The edge-selective doping and the preservation of the pristine graphene basal plane in the SeGnPs were confirmed by various analytical techniques, including atomic-resolution transmission electron microscopy. Tested as the DSSC CE in both Co(bpy)32+/3+ (bpy = 2,2′-bipyridine) and I/I3 electrolytes, the SeGnP-CEs exhibited outstanding electrocatalytic performance with ultimately high stability. The SeGnP-CE–based DSSCs displayed a higher photovoltaic performance than did the Pt-CE–based DSSCs in both SM315 sensitizer with Co(bpy)32+/3+ and N719 sensitizer with I/I3 electrolytes. Furthermore, the I3 reduction mechanism, which has not been fully understood in carbon-based CE materials to date, was clarified by an electrochemical kinetics study combined with density functional theory and nonequilibrium Green’s function calculations.

  • Edge-selenation
  • Graphene naoplatelet
  • Dye-sensitized solar cell
  • Iodine reduction reaction
  • Cobalt reduction reaction

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