Preparation and characterization of ZnO/graphene nanocomposite for improved photovoltaic performance

  • P. Jayabal
  • S. Gayathri
  • V. Sasirekha
  • J. Mayandi
  • V. Ramakrishnan
Research Paper


Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles and ZnO/graphene (ZG) nanocomposite were synthesized via simple chemical route and its application as a photoanode for dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) was demonstrated. The prepared ZnO and ZG were structurally characterized by X-ray diffraction and micro-Raman techniques. The scanning electron micrograph of ZG revealed the spherical-shaped ZnO nanoparticles of particle size ~160 nm was anchored on the two-dimensional graphene sheets. UV–Vis absorption spectroscopy showed that the ZG nanocomposite has enriched visible light absorption. The DSSCs were fabricated using the synthesized ZnO and ZG nanocomposite as photoanode and the effect of low-cost organic dyes on the photovoltaic performances of the solar cells were investigated. Comprehensive performances of ZG are better than that of ZnO-based DSSCs. The ZG DSSCs show power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 1.5 and 0.98 % for RB and EY sensitized electrodes, respectively. Moreover, the ZG dominates in many aspects due to the presence of graphene.


ZnO Nanocomposite Graphene Micro-Raman Solar cells Energy conversion 



This work was financially supported by DST-PURSE Programme of Madurai Kamaraj University. The authors thank DST-FIST for providing Powder XRD facility, UGC-UPE for providing micro-Raman and solar simulator facilities. The authors PJ & JM acknowledge Mr. Suresh, School of Energy Science, Madurai Kamaraj University for his assistance in I–V measurement.


  1. Akhavan O (2010) Graphene nanomesh by ZnO nanorod photocatalysts. ACS Nano 4:4174–4180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anta JA, Guillen E, Zaera RT (2012) ZnO-based dye-sensitized solar cells. J Phys Chem C 116:11413–11425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen Z, Li F, Huang C (2007) Organic D-π-A dyes for dye sensitized solar cell. Curr Org Chem 11:1241–1258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen YL, Hu ZA, Chang YQ, Wang HW, Zhang ZY, Yang YY, Wu HY (2011) Zinc oxide/reduced graphene oxide composites and electrochemical capacitance enhanced by homogeneous incorporation of reduced graphene oxide sheets in zinc oxide matrix. J Phys Chem C 115:2563–2571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen L, Zhou Y, Tu W, Li Z, Bao C, Dai H, Yu T, Liu J, Zou Z (2013) Enhanced photovoltaic performance of a dye-sensitized solar cell using graphene–TiO2 photoanode prepared by a novel in situ simultaneous reduction–hydrolysis technique. Nanoscale 5:3481–3485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cheng B, Sun W, Jiao J, Tian B, Xiao Y, Lei S (2010) Disorder-induced Raman scattering effects in one-dimensional ZnO nanostructures by incorporation and anisotropic distribution of Dy and Li codopants. J Raman Spectrosc 41:1221–1226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cuong TV, Phama VH, Chung JS, Shina EW, Yoo DH, Hahn SH, Huh JS, Rue GH, Kima EJ, Hur SH, Kohl PA (2010) Solution-processed ZnO-chemically converted graphene gas sensor. Mater Lett 64:2479–2482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dhar P, Ansari MHD, Gupta SS, Siva VM, Pradeep T, Pattamatta A, Das SK (2013) Percolation network dynamicity and sheet dynamics governed viscous behavior of polydispersed graphene nanosheet suspensions. J Nanopart Res 15:2095/1–2095/12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gratzel M (2001) Molecular photovoltaics that mimic photosynthesis. Pure Appl Chem 73:459–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gratzel M (2003) Dye-sensitized solar cells. J Photochem Photobiol C Photochem Rev 4:145–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gratzel M (2005) Solar energy conversion by dye-sensitized photovoltaic cells. Inorg Chem 44:6841–6851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gratzel M, Hagfeldt A (2000) Molecular photovoltaics. Acc Chem Res 33:269–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hagfeldt A, Boschloo G, Sun L, Kloo L, Pettersson H (2010) Dye-sensitized solar cells. Chem Rev 110:6595–6663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hummers WS, Offeman RE (1958) Preparation of graphene oxide. Chem Soc 80:1339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hwang JO, Lee DH, Kim JY, Han TH, Kim BH, Park M, No K, Kim SO (2011) Vertical ZnO nanowires/graphene hybrids for transparent and flexible field emission. J Mater Chem 21:3432–3437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kamat PV (2010) Graphene-based nanoarchitectures. Anchoring semiconductor and metal nanoparticles on a two-dimensional carbon support. J Phys Chem Lett 1:520–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kongkanand A, Dominguez RM, Kamat PV (2007) Single wall carbon nanotube scaffolds for photoelectrochemical solar cells. Capture and transport of photogenerated electrons. Nano Lett 7:676–680CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lee JS, You KH, Park CB (2012) Highly photoactive, low bandgap TiO2 nanoparticles wrapped by graphene. Adv Mater 24:1084–1088CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Li B, Cao H (2011) ZnO@graphene composite with enhanced performance for the removal of dye from water. J Mater Chem 21:3346–3349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lightcap IV, Kamat PV (2013) Graphitic design: prospects of graphene-based nanocomposites for solar energy conversion, storage, and sensing. Acc Chem Res 46:2235–2243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Liu X, Pan L, Lv T, Lu T, Zhu G, Sun Z, Sun C (2011) Microwave-assisted synthesis of ZnO–graphene composite for photocatalytic reduction of Cr(VI). Catal Sci Technol 1:1189–1193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Luo QP, Yu XY, Lei BX, Chen HY, Kuang DB, Su CY (2012) Reduced graphene oxide-hierarchical ZnO hollow sphere composites with enhanced photocurrent and photocatalytic activity. J Phys Chem C 116:8111–8117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lv R, Wang X, Lv W, Xu Y, Ge Y, He H, Li G, Wu X, Li X, Li Q (2014) Facile synthesis of ZnO nanorods grown on graphene sheets and its enhanced photocatalytic efficiency. J Chem Technol Biotechnol. doi: 10.1002/jctb.4347 Google Scholar
  24. Marlinda AR, Huang NM, Muhamad MR, Anamt MN, Chang BYS, Yusoff N, Harrison I, Lim HN, Chia CH, Kumar SV (2012) Highly efficient preparation of ZnO nanorods decorated reduced graphene oxide nanocomposites. Mater Lett 80:9–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Moser J, Gratzel M (1984) Photosensitized electron injection in colloidal semiconductors. J Am Chem Soc 106:6557–6564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nayak P, Anbarasan B, Ramaprabhu S (2013) Fabrication of organophosphorus biosensor using ZnO nanoparticle-decorated carbon nanotube-graphene hybrid composite prepared by a novel green technique. J Phys Chem C 117:13202–13209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Nazeeruddin Md K, Baranoff E, Gratzel M (2011) Dye-sensitized solar cells: a brief overview. Sol Energy 85:1172–1178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Omar A, Abdullah H, Yarmo MA, Shaari S, Taha (2013) Morphological and electron transport studies in ZnO dye-sensitized solar cells incorporating multi- and single-walled carbon nanotubes. J Phys D Appl Phys 46:165503/1–165503/8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Omar FS, Ming HN, Hafiz SM, Ngee LH (2014) Microwave synthesis of zinc oxide/reduced graphene oxide hybrid for adsorption-photocatalysis application. Int J Photoenergy 2014:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rani S, Suri P, Shishodia PK, Mehra RM (2008) Synthesis of nanocrystalline ZnO powder via sol–gel route for dye-sensitized solar cells. Sol Energy Mater Sol C 92:1639–1645CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sahoo AK, Srivastava SK, Raul PK, Gupta AK, Shrivastava R (2014) Graphene nanocomposites of CdS and ZnS in effective water purification. J Nanopart Res 16:2473/1–2473/17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shahzad N, Pugliese D, Lamberti A, Sacco A, Virga A, Gazia R, Bianco S, Shahzad MI, Tresso E, Pirri CF (2013) Monitoring the dye impregnation time of nanostructured photoanodes for dye sensitized solar cells. J Phys Conf Ser 439:012012/1–012012/12Google Scholar
  33. Tang YB, Lee CS, Xu J, Liu ZT, Chen ZH, He Z, Cao YL, Yuan G, Song H, Chen L, Luo L, Cheng HM, Zhang WJ, Bello I, Lee ST (2010) Incorporation of graphenes in nanostructured TiO2 films via molecular grafting for dye-sensitized solar cell application. ACS Nano 4:3482–3488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wahab R, Ansari SG, Kim YS, Seo HK, Shin HS (2007) Room temperature synthesis of needle-shaped ZnO nanorods via sonochemical method. App Surf Sci 253:7622–7626CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Xiang Q, Yu J, Jaroniec M (2012) Graphene-based semiconductor photocatalysts. Chem Soc Rev 41:782–796CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Xu C, Wang X, Zhu J (2008) Graphene–metal particle nanocomposites. J Phys Chem C 112:19841–19845CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Xu T, Zhang L, Cheng H, Zhu Y (2011) Significantly enhanced photocatalytic performance of ZnO via graphene hybridization and the mechanism study. App Catal B 101:382–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yang N, Zhai J, Wang D, Chen Y, Jiang L (2010) Two-dimensional graphene bridges enhanced photoinduced charge transport in dye-sensitized solar cells. ACS Nano 4:887–894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zeferino RS, Flores MB, Pal U (2011) Photoluminescence and Raman scattering in Ag-doped ZnO nanoparticles. J Appl Phys 109:014308/1–014308/6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zhang L, Cheng H, Zong R, Zhu Y (2009a) Photocorrosion suppression of ZnO nanoparticles via hybridization with graphite-like carbon and enhanced photocatalytic activity. J Phys Chem C 113:2368–2374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zhang Q, Dandeneau CS, Zhou X, Cao G (2009b) ZnO nanostructures for dye-sensitized solar cells. Adv Mater 21:4087–4108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhang H, Lv X, Li Y, Wang Y, Li J (2010a) P25-graphene composite as a high performance photocatalyst. ACS Nano 4:380–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zhang Y, Tang ZR, Fu X, Xu YJ (2010b) TiO2–graphene nanocomposites for gas phase photocatalytic degradation of volatile aromatic pollutant: is TiO2–graphene truly different from other TiO2–carbon composite materials? ACS Nano 4:7303–7314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Zhao N, Cheng X, Zhou Y, Yang M, Yang J, Zhong T, Zheng S (2014) Synthesis of flexible free-standing silver nanoparticles–graphene films and their surface-enhanced Raman scattering activity. J Nanopart Res 16:2335/1–2335/11Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Jayabal
    • 1
  • S. Gayathri
    • 1
  • V. Sasirekha
    • 2
  • J. Mayandi
    • 3
  • V. Ramakrishnan
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Laser Studies, School of PhysicsMadurai Kamaraj UniversityMaduraiIndia
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsAvinashilingam UniversityCoimbatoreIndia
  3. 3.Department of Materials Science, School of ChemistryMadurai Kamaraj UniversityMaduraiIndia
  4. 4.Indian Institute of Science Education and Research ThiruvananthapuramThiruvananthapuramIndia

Personalised recommendations