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Efficient Synthetic Access to Cationic Dendrons and Their Application for ZnO Nanoparticles Surface Functionalization: New Building Blocks for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

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journal contribution
posted on 22.12.2010, 00:00 authored by Jan-Frederik Gnichwitz, Renata Marczak, Fabian Werner, Nina Lang, Norbert Jux, Dirk M. Guldi, Wolfgang Peukert, Andreas Hirsch
A new concept for the efficient synthesis of cationic dendrons, 4-tert-butyl-1-(3-(3,4-dihydroxybenzamido)benzyl)pyridinium bromide (17), 1,1′-(5-(3,4-dihydroxybenzamido)-1,3-phenylene)bis(methylene)bis(4-tert-butylpyridinium) bromide (18), N1,N7-bis(3-(4-tert-butyl-pyridium-methyl)phenyl)-4-(3-(3-(4-tert-butyl-pyridinium-methyl)phenyl-amino)-3-oxopropyl)-4-(3,4-dihydroxybenzamido)heptanediamide tribromide (19), and N1,N7-bis(3,5-bis(4-tert-butyl-pyridium-methyl)phenyl)-4-(3-(3,5-bis(4-tert-butyl-pyridinium-methyl)phenylamino)-3-oxopropyl)-4-(3,4-dihydroxybenzamido)heptanediamide hexabromide (20), and their facile binding to zinc oxide (ZnO) nanostructures is introduced. Dendrons containing highly reactive benzylic bromides reacted readily with 4-tert-butyl-pyridine and resulted in cationic dendrons. Furthermore, these permanently positively charged dendrons were equipped with a catechol anchor group. This enabled ZnO surface functionalization by simple immersion. The adsorption of 17, 18, 19, and 20 on the colloidal nanoparticles was monitored by Langmuir isotherms. The highest obtained experimental loadings correspond to 99.5%, 98.6%, 99.1%, and 42.5% of the particle surface for 17, 18, 19, and 20, respectively. These results indicate insufficient adsorption of the largest molecule 20 leading to reduced colloidal stability of the nanoparticles, while an enhanced stability after grafting with 17, 18, and 19 was observed. Mesoporous films suitable for the use as electrodes in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) were prepared. Subsequently, the films were functionalized with 18, 19, or 20 and sensitized with zinc-5,15-bis-[2′,6′-bis-{2′′,2′′-bis-(carboxy)-ethyl}-methyl-4′-tert-butyl-pheny]-10,20-bis-(4′-tert-butylphenyl)porphyrin-octasodium-salt. UV−vis absorption spectra confirmed that 18, 19, and 20 are suitable for the stable electrostatic attachment of the dye. Current−voltage characteristics of complete cells demonstrated that increasing positive functionalization of the ZnO surface leads to decreased open circuit voltages (Voc). All Voc values were around 0.4 V with a maximum for the 18 functionalized ZnO film of 0.45 V. The maximum cell efficiency obtained (0.31%) is rather high, considering the narrow spectral absorption of the dye and the rather thin ZnO films used. Finally, incident photon to current efficiency (IPCE) measurements confirmed photoinduced electron injection from the dye. These features are important assets for applications in particle technology and even facilitated advanced devices like a supramolecular DSSC complete with a subsequent layer of negatively charged porphyrins.