Hierarchically-Structured NiO Nanoplatelets as Mesoscale p‑Type Photocathodes for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

A p-type metal oxide with high surface area and good charge carrier mobility is of paramount importance for development of tandem solar fuel and dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) devices. Here, we report the synthesis, hierarchical morphology, electrical properties, and DSSC performance of mesoscale p-type NiO platelets. This material, which exhibits lateral dimensions of 100 nm but thicknesses less than 10 nm, can be controllably functionalized with a high-density array of vertical pores 4–6, 5–9, or 7–23 nm in diameter depending on exact synthetic conditions. Thin films of this porous but still quasi-two-dimensional material retain a high surface area and exhibit electrical mobilities more than 10-fold higher than comparable films of spherical particles with similar doping levels. These advantages lead to a modest, 20–30% improvement in the performance of DSSC devices under simulated 1-sun illumination. The capability to rationally control morphology provides a route for continued development of NiO as a high-efficiency material for tandem solar energy devices.