Nanocrystalline – Dye Solar Cell Lab



Light hits the dye which frees an electron to be accepted by the TiO2, electrons are returned to the dye by a redox reaction in the potassium iodide solution in contact with the rear electrode.

This dye-sensitized solar cell, also known as a Grätzel cell, uses a thin film of titanium dioxide which has been ground to a fine powder (nanocrystalline) to increase its reactive surface area. The TiO2 is sandwiched between two glass slides that are coated with conductive and transparent indium tin oxide (ITO). The TiO2 is impregnated with some kind of colored dye, in this case anthocyanin from raspberry juice, which is the chemical which first traps the solar energy and passes the charge to the TiO2. Finally, the space between the slides is filled with a liquid electrolyte solution of potassium iodide which serves to transport charge (by way of a redox reaction) from the bottom electrode to the dye to complete the circuit.


A finished cell is held together with clips.


see wikipedia Dye Sensitized solar cells


Download lab manual

Make Your Own Solar Cell (1 hour version)_2pg

Make Your Own Solar Cell_Worksheet

Berry cell powerpoint

Video Instructions

Source for materials

Institute for Chemical Education – Nanocyrstaline Solar Cell Kit

Web Links

Alternative Device Instructions

Wisconsin Mrsec TiO2 Example

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) lesson plans

Exploratorium version

Solideas version

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