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RESEARCH PROFILE

Professor Dr. Vinich Promarak

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
School of Molecular Science and Engineering (MSE)
Tel. 033 014150
Email vinich.p@vistec.ac.th

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Nature-Inspired Solar Sells: Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells (DSCs) for Low Cost Energy Conversion

 

Research Overview

Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) are solar cells inspired by photosynthesizing plants. DSCs are based on molecular and nanometer-scale components. Record cell efficiencies of 12%, promising stability data and means of energy-efficient production methods have been accomplished. As selling points for the DSC technology the prospect of low-cost investments and fabrication are key features. DSCs offer the possibilities to design solar cells with a large flexibility in shape, color, and transparency. Optimization of dye sensitizer to achieve highly efficient, stable, DSC device and modules will open the way to unexpected developments towards practical technological devices for alternative energy production to meet the global demand.

Solar energy conversion

As the world’s population increases, energy consumption will increase with it. To meet this demand there is a need to develop alternate energy sources. Although renewable and nuclear energy are growing by 2.5% a year, fossil fuels are still projected to make up at least 80% of the global energy supply in next 20 years. There are uncertainties in estimates of fossil fuel reserves, but the potential for debilitating and possibly devastating environmental impacts arising from the combustion of fossil fuels creates a second imperative for developing alternate energy sources.

Of the available renewable sources, the sun is, by far, the largest in availability and is the most likely long-term solution as the dominant primary, carbon-neutral energy source. Harvesting energy directly from sunlight by photovoltaics (PVs) is a very attractive and desirable way to solve the rising energy demand. PV cells also directly convert solar radiation into electricity without affecting the environment. So far many types of PV devices like organic, inorganic, and hybrid cells have been developed to harness the energy. Although silicon based solar cells (inorganic cells) are widely used because of their high efficiency, they are rigid and manufacturing costs are high. To overcome these disadvantages researchers have focused on organic solar cells including dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs), perovskite solar cells (PSCs) and organic photovoltaics (OPVs). In contrast to conventional solar cells, the underlying principle is the conversion of light into electrical energy by means of an organic dye.

Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs)

DSCs are solar cells inspired by photosynthesizing plants and use an organic dye to absorb incoming sunlight to produce excited electrons and create an energy which is then transferred to an inexpensive material, such as titanium dioxide (TiO2). From there, the energy is collected on a transparent conducting surface.
DSCs are produced using simple screen-printing and are a promising technological development with regard to production, application and sustainability. The range of colors and semi-transparent surface options available with DSCs creates new opportunities for design in building-integrated photovoltaics while also combining the traditional facade functions (weather and noise protection) with energy production. The DSC stands out for its low cost, environmentally friendly materials, highly variable design and ease of replacement.
 

Our research team at VISTEC has been developing variety of new dye sensitizers for DSCs for many years. High efficiency DSC devices and module prototypes have been fabricated from these new dye sensitizers. The aim of the research project is to develop new dye sensitizers for achieving highly efficient, stable, DSC device and modules and to develop the DSC to the application stage.
 

The maximum electrical conversion efficiency of DSCs attained so far is 12%, which is still low for commercial applications. Therefore, low efficiency and low stability are the major challenges for the commercial deployment of DSCs.

 

Selected Publications

  1. D. Muenmart, N. Prachumrak, R. Tarsang, S. Namuangruk, S. Jungsuttiwong, T. Sudyoadsuk, P. Pattanasattayavong, V. Promarak RSC Advances, 2016, 6, 38481–38493.
  2. T. Kaewpuang, N. Prachumrak, S. Namuangruk, S. Jungsuttiwong, T. Sudyoadsuk, P. Pattanasattayavong, V. Promarak European Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2016, DOI: 10.1002/ejoc.201600190.
  3. K. Sirithip, N. Prachumrak, R. Rattanawan, T. Keawin, T. Sudyoadsuk, S. Namuangruk, S. Jungsuttiwong, V. Promarak Chemistry-An Asian Journal, 2015, 10, 882-893.
  4. R. Tarsang, V. Promarak, T. Sudyoadsuk, S. Namuangruk, S. Jungsuttiwong, CHEMPHYSCHEM, 2014, 15, 3809-3818.
  5. S. Jungsuttiwong, S. Namuangruk, R. Rattanawan, K. Sirithip, T. Keawin, T. Sudyoadsuk, V. Promarak, N, Kungwan Dalton Transactions, 2014, 43, 9166-9176.
  6. P. Thongkasee, A. Thangthong, N. Janthasing, T. Sudyoadsuk, S. Namuangruk, T. Kaewin, S. Jungsuttiwong, V. Promarak ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2014, 6, 8212−8222.
  7. S. Namuangruk, R. Fukuda, M. Ehara, J. Meeprasert, T. Khanasa, S. Morada, T. Kaewin, S. Jungsuttiwong, T. Sudyoadsuk, V. Promarak Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2012, 116, 25653−25663.
 

Research Group Members:

Prof. Dr. Vinich Promarak (Professor)
Dr. Pichaya Pattanasattayavong (Lecturer)
Assist. Prof. Dr. Taweesak Sudyoasuk
(Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr. Anurach Poloek (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Dr. Rossatorn Muangpaisal(Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
Mr. Jakkapan Kumsampao
Mr. Phattananawee Nalaoh
Mr. Jirat Chatsirisupachai
Mr. Sebastian Broll
Ms.Namthip Khammultri