Metal-Cluster-Sensitized Solar Cells. A New Class of Thiolated Gold Sensitizers Delivering Efficiency Greater Than 2%

A new class of metal-cluster sensitizers has been explored for designing high-efficiency solar cells. Thiol-protected gold clusters which exhibit molecular-like properties have been found to inject electrons into TiO2 nanostructures under visible excitation. Mesoscopic TiO2 films modified with gold clusters deliver stable photocurrent of 3.96 mA/cm2 with power conversion efficiencies of 2.3% under AM 1.5 illumination. The overall absorption features and cell performance of metal-cluster-sensitized solar cells (MCSCs) are comparable to those of CdS quantum-dot-based solar cells (QDSCs). The relatively high open-circuit voltage of 832 mV and fill factor of 0.7 for MCSCs as compared to QDSCs show the viability of these new sensitizers as alternatives to semiconductor QDs and sensitizing dyes in the next generation of solar cells. The superior performance of MCSCs discussed in this maiden study lays the foundation to explore other metal clusters with broader visible absorption.