Development of Thin-film Dye-Sensitized Photoactive Materials on Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (First-year Report)

Report No. ARL-MR-0813
Authors: Mark Griep, Victor Rodriguez-Santiago, Andres A. Bujanda, Josh Martin, Shashi P. Karna, and Daphne D. Pappas
Date/Pages: April 2012; 42 pages
Abstract: To address Future Force (FF) Soldier power needs and lessen the dependence on cumbersome batteries, flexible dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) are an attractive candidate for future solar energy harvesting since they do not require expensive semi-conductor substrates or highly complex processing steps. In this study, the different materials layers comprising the desired DSSC were studied. We used ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) as a model substrate, activating UHMWPE surfaces prior to metallization using atmospheric-pressure plasma processing. These surfaces were then used as electrodes. Titania nanotube (TiNT) arrays were prepared by an electrochemical two-step anodization procedure coupled with a rapid inert gas dehydration and ultrasonic agitation detachment method. The free-standing arrays, comprised of hexagonally closed-packed, regularly ordered TiNT membranes, were synthesized and detached from the original Ti substrate. Ruthenium (Ru) and bacteriorhodopsin (bR) dyes were used as active layers. To evaluate the binding of bR dye to the titanium dioxide (TiO2) versus the commonly used Ru dye, a preliminary test was performed using nanotubes on their original Ti substrate. At 60 mW of illumination, the Ru and bR cells achieved efficiencies at 1.2% and 0.001%, respectively. Although the results are promising, further research efforts are needed to optimize the interfaces between the different layers and improve the performance of the resulting devices.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: April 1, 2012