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Adsorption Properties of p‑Methyl Red Monomeric-to-Pentameric Dye Aggregates on Anatase (101) Titania Surfaces: First-Principles Calculations of Dye/TiO2 Photoanode Interfaces for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

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journal contribution
posted on 24.09.2014, 00:00 by Lei Zhang, Jacqueline M. Cole
The optical and electronic properties of dye aggregates of p-methyl red on a TiO2 anatase (101) surface were modeled as a function of aggregation order (monomer to pentameric dye) via first-principles calculations. A progressive red-shifting and intensity increase toward the visible region in UV–vis absorption spectra is observed from monomeric-to-tetrameric dyes, with each molecule in a given aggregate binding to one of the four possible TiO2 (101) adsorption sites. The pentamer exhibits a blue-shifted peak wavelength in the UV–vis absorption spectra and less absorption intensity in the visible region in comparison; a corresponding manifestation of H-aggregation occurs since one of these five molecules cannot occupy an adsorption site. This finding is consistent with experiment. Calculated density of states (DOS) and partial DOS spectra reveal similar dye···TiO2 nanocomposite conduction band characteristics but different valence band features. Associated molecular orbital distributions reveal dye-to-TiO2 interfacial charge transfer in all five differing aggregate orders; meanwhile, the level of intramolecular charge transfer in the dye becomes progressively localized around its azo- and electron-donating groups, up to the tetrameric dye/TiO2 species. Dye adsorption energies and dye coverage levels are calculated and compared with experiment. Overall, the findings of this case study serve to aid the molecular design of azo dyes toward better performing DSSC devices wherein they are incorporated. In addition, they provide a helpful example reference for understanding the effects of dye aggregation on the adsorbate···TiO2 interfacial optical and electronic properties.