Technical development for the world’s top-class dye-sensitized solar cell high-efficiency organic dyes

Technical development for the world’s top-class dye-sensitized solar cell high-efficiency organic dyes

DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology)
(Jin-Kyu Kang, Convergence Research Center for Solar Energy)

Commercialization of solar cells can be successful only when you achieve both high efficiency and moderate prices. Therefore, there have been intense researches conducted to achieve both goals at the same time in and out of the country. Meanwhile, a domestic research team succeeded in raising the efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells, the so-called next-generation solar cell, to world-class level, which has become a topic of conversation. This is the high-efficiency organic dye developed by the team led by Jin-Kyu Kang Ph.D. from the Convergence Research Center for Solar Energy at the DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology).

Advancing the realization of high-efficiency and low-priced dye-sensitized solar cell commercialization

Since the first commercialization of solar cells in the 1950s, the research and development for solar cells has focused on developing solar cells with higher conversion efficiency and lower production cost. Because solar cells can be commercialized and the market can be stabilized only when more then 20% of conversion efficiency can be achieved under the given context that regular solar energy that can be converted from sunlight to electric energy is just about 50%; and when high production cost caused by high price of silicon, a main ingredient of the most commonly used crystalline structure silicon solar cell, can be reduced.


Therefore, the development of “expended technology in the optical absorption area for dye-sensitized solar cell organic dyes” done by the team led by Jin-Kyu Kang Ph.D. is expected to significantly accelerate the commercialization of dye-sensitized solar cells, because it allows a low price advantage using organic dyes along with achieving high efficiency by extending the light abortion wavelength of dye-sensitized solar cells called the 3rd-generation solar cell, beyond the 1st-generation solar cell, crystalline structure silicon solar cell, and the 2nd-generation solar cell, thin film type solar cell whose technical development and researches are being progressed even now.
Furthermore, the development implements RGB color with organic dyes which paves the way to widen the sphere of application, expecting even the expansion of the dyesensitized
solar cell market.

Success in developing organic dyes having world-class level photoelectric conversion efficiency

Dye-sensitized solar cells were first developed by Gratzel in Switzerland in 1991. That is photo-electrochemical solar cell using oxide semiconductor made of TiO2, light sensitive dye molecules and nano-particles, which is considered as a leading solar cell of the 3rd generation solar cells, because of its lower price due to a simpler manufacturing process compared to existing silicon solar cells, no restriction in material supply, and the advantage of being an environmentally friendly product. Dr. Kang explains that “dye-sensitized solar cell has 33% high marginal conversion efficiency theoretically, moderate manufacturing cost, and no restriction in supplying the raw materials. Also, it is taking the center stage of environmentally friendly energy sources because of neither using high temperature nor high-degree vacuum processes and low discharge of environmental contaminants. It has advantages that allow coloring of solar cells through diversification in dye structure”, and “But, the actual photoelectric conversion of dye-sensitized solar cells is still low and its commercialization has some difficulties, so this technical development seems to play a role as a big launch pad for dye-sensitized solar cell research, technical development, and commercialization in the situation where securing high efficient dyes is required”. Indeed, the main hindrance in the commercialization of dye-sensitized solar cell is its core material, dye. It is because the high prices of the currently used ruthenic dyes.

Therefore, to improve efficiency and for lower price, the need for developing organic dyes that can substitute for organometallic dye comes to the fore. On this occasion, the success of raising the level of photoelectric conversion efficiency to the world’s highest level of 11.2% done by Dr. Kang’s team who designed and composed phenothiazine based new organic dye that has extended optical absorption to absorb light in widened wavelength area through their own technical development DGIST a world-class research center that leads dyesensitized solar cell research field and serves as a momentum.
Meanwhile, Dr. Kang mentioned the difficulties they faced in this development, explaining, “Organic dye can create various colors according to chromosphoric type and count and is easy for molecular design, differ from commercialized ruthenium dyes, while its complex compounding method to integrate chromospheres into molecular through numerous synthesis to absorb broadband wavelength was the biggest difficulty in this technical development process.” and “But we, differ from other research groups, applied various functionalities that can allow the dye rather than the chromosphere playing a proper role on oxides in order to make commercializable high-efficiency organic dye and eventually produced high efficiency broadband absorption dye.

Expecting to lead the market penetration by accelerating commercialization researches

As world-class new dye and original process technology can be secured, Dr.Kang’s team won a contract for phase 2 of the ongoing core material source technical development project, and is working on the research to advance commercialization along with domestic leading companies in dye-sensitized solar cell development. Furthermore, they are expected to dominate the future dye-sensitized solar cell market.
Such expectations come from the fact that not just nextgeneration solar cells such as dye-sensitized solar cells have superiority in its using materials without requiring high temperature or vacuum processes in the manufacturing process, but also lightening the element is possible as well as a drastic cut in module price is possible with high-speed manufacturing by printing technology. Also, aesthetic dye-sensitized solar cell development through colorful solar cells becomes a key issue, and new solar cell market will be formed based on this dye-sensitized solar cell.

In addition, the technical nature of dye-sensitized solar cells is similar to that of the display industry. Thus our country which has the best display techniques, having advanced front and back industries and possessing very big growth potential in that industry through early value chain setup, is expected to have strong power of influence on market domination as well as easy market access.

For the BIPV market, in particular, that seems to account for about 50% of dye-sensitized solar cell market, it is expected that the technology developed by Dr. Kang’s team will play a great role in holding the market along with the accompanied growth through convergence with construction industry.

Dr. Kang who said, “Like the proverb of the greatest honor is not to never fail but to regain
yourself whenever you fail, only person who never dread failure but always make a new trial can live successful life”, also mentioned about his future plans as “DGIST possesses excellent solar cell related research staff, original technology, and many original patents, based on which, DGIST would play an important role as an outpost to commercialize the developed technology. And we will continue researches to develop the world’s most efficient solar cell instead of merely being satisfied with the current results.” | Blog Magazine of korean electronics, brands and Goods

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