A colloidal crystal-splitting growth regime has been accessed, in which TiO2 nanocrystals, selectively trapped in the metastable anatase phase, can evolve to anisotropic shapes with tunable hyperbranched topologies over a broad size interval. The synthetic strategy relies on a nonaqueous sol–gel route involving programmed activation of aminolysis and pyrolysis of titanium carboxylate complexes in hot surfactant media via a simple multi-injection reactant delivery technique. Detailed investigations indicate that the branched objects initially formed upon the aminolysis reaction possess a strained monocrystalline skeleton, while their corresponding larger derivatives grown in the subsequent pyrolysis stage accommodate additional arms crystallographically decoupled from the lattice underneath. The complex evolution of the nanoarchitectures is rationalized within the frame of complementary mechanistic arguments. Thermodynamic pathways, determined by the shape-directing effect of the anatase structure and free-energy changes accompanying branching and anisotropic development, are considered to interplay with kinetic processes, related to diffusion-limited, spatially inhomogeneous monomer fluxes, lattice symmetry breaking at transient Ti5O5 domains, and surfactant-induced stabilization. Finally, as a proof of functionality, the fabrication of dye-sensitized solar cells based on thin-film photoelectrodes that incorporate networked branched nanocrystals with intact crystal structure and geometric features is demonstrated. An energy conversion efficiency of 6.2% has been achieved with standard device configuration, which significantly overcomes the best performance ever approached with previously documented prototypes of split TiO2 nanostructures. Analysis of the relevant photovoltaic parameters reveals that the utilized branched building blocks indeed offer light-harvesting and charge-collecting properties that can overwhelm detrimental electron losses due to recombination and trapping events.

Hyperbranched TiO2 Nanocrystals: Nonhydrolytic Synthesis, Growth Mechanism and Exploitation in Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

R. Giannuzzi;GIGLI, Giuseppe;COZZOLI, Pantaleo Davide
2011-01-01

Abstract

A colloidal crystal-splitting growth regime has been accessed, in which TiO2 nanocrystals, selectively trapped in the metastable anatase phase, can evolve to anisotropic shapes with tunable hyperbranched topologies over a broad size interval. The synthetic strategy relies on a nonaqueous sol–gel route involving programmed activation of aminolysis and pyrolysis of titanium carboxylate complexes in hot surfactant media via a simple multi-injection reactant delivery technique. Detailed investigations indicate that the branched objects initially formed upon the aminolysis reaction possess a strained monocrystalline skeleton, while their corresponding larger derivatives grown in the subsequent pyrolysis stage accommodate additional arms crystallographically decoupled from the lattice underneath. The complex evolution of the nanoarchitectures is rationalized within the frame of complementary mechanistic arguments. Thermodynamic pathways, determined by the shape-directing effect of the anatase structure and free-energy changes accompanying branching and anisotropic development, are considered to interplay with kinetic processes, related to diffusion-limited, spatially inhomogeneous monomer fluxes, lattice symmetry breaking at transient Ti5O5 domains, and surfactant-induced stabilization. Finally, as a proof of functionality, the fabrication of dye-sensitized solar cells based on thin-film photoelectrodes that incorporate networked branched nanocrystals with intact crystal structure and geometric features is demonstrated. An energy conversion efficiency of 6.2% has been achieved with standard device configuration, which significantly overcomes the best performance ever approached with previously documented prototypes of split TiO2 nanostructures. Analysis of the relevant photovoltaic parameters reveals that the utilized branched building blocks indeed offer light-harvesting and charge-collecting properties that can overwhelm detrimental electron losses due to recombination and trapping events.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11587/362601
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