Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 52, Issue 14, pp 8421–8431 | Cite as

Honeycomb-like polypyrrole/multi-wall carbon nanotube films as an effective counter electrode in bifacial dye-sensitized solar cells

  • Honggang Li
  • Yaoming XiaoEmail author
  • Gaoyi HanEmail author
  • Miaoyu Li
Energy materials


Honeycomb-like polypyrrole/multi-wall carbon nanotube (PPy/MWCNT) film demonstrates as an efficient and semitransparent counter electrode (CE) in bifacial dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC), which is first fabricated on fluorine-doped tin oxide glass by a facile method using a sacrificial template of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA). The results from ultraviolet–visible spectrophotometer and cyclic voltammetry measurements testify that the honeycomb-like PPy/MWCNT film possesses high transparency for the backside illumination and wonderful electrocatalytic activity for the reduction of triiodide (I3 ) to iodide (I) in the bifacial DSSC. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy results indicate that the honeycomb-like nanostructure combining with the MWCNT decreases the resistance of the PPy/MWCNT film for the transfer of electrons from the external circuit back to the redox electrolyte. The bifacial DSSC based on the honeycomb-like PPy/MWCNT CE achieves 7.07 and 4.11% of the front and rear efficiencies, respectively, which are higher than those of the bifacial DSSC based on the flat PPy CE (5.78 and 3.07%, respectively).


PMMA Counter Electrode Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy Measurement Sacrificial Template Tetrabutyl Ammonium Iodide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors appreciate funding from National Natural Science Foundation of China (61504076, 21574076, and U1510121) and National Natural Science Foundation of Shanxi Province (2015021129 and 2014011016-1).

Supplementary material

10853_2017_1082_MOESM1_ESM.doc (9.9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 10101 kb)


  1. 1.
    O’Regan B, Grätzel M (1991) A low-cost, high-efficiency solar cell based on dye-sensitized colloidal TiO2 films. Nature 353:737–740CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hagfeldt A, Boschloo G, Sun L, Kloo L, Pettersson H (2010) Dye-sensitized solar cells. Chem Rev 110:6595–6663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Wu J, Lan Z, Lin J, Huang M, Huang Y, Fan L, Luo G (2015) Electrolytes in dye-sensitized solar cells. Chem Rev 115:2136–2173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Xiao Y, Han G (2016) High performance platinum nanofibers with interconnecting structure using in dye-sensitized solar cells. Org Electron 37:239–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Xiao Y, Han G, Li Y, Li M, Lin J (2015) Three-dimensional hollow platinum–nickel bimetallic nanoframes for use in dye-sensitized solar cells. J Power Sources 278:149–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Olsen E, Hagen G, Lindquist S (2000) Dissolution of platinum in methoxy propionitrile containing LiI/I2. Sol Energy Mater Sol Cells 63:267–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Wu J, Xiao Y, Yue G, Tang Q, Lin J, Huang M, Huang Y, Fan L, Lan Z, Yin S, Sato T (2012) A large-area light-weight dye-sensitized solar cell based on all titanium substrates with an efficiency of 6.69% outdoors. Adv Mater 24:1884–1888CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Aboagye A, Elbohy H, Kelkar A, Qiao Q, Zai J, Qian X, Zhang L (2015) Electrospun carbon nanofibers with surface-attached platinum nanoparticles as cost-effective and efficient counter electrode for dye-sensitized solar Cells. Nano Energy 11:550–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Zhao J, Ma J, Nan X, Tang B (2016) Application of non-covalent functionalized carbon nanotubes for the counter electrode of dye-sensitized solar cells. Org Electron 30:52–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Choi H, Gong H, Park J, Hong S (2013) Characteristics of dye-sensitized solar cells with surface-modified multi-walled carbon nanotubes as counter electrodes. J Mater Sci 48:906–912. doi:  10.1007/s10853-012-6813-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sun H, Qin D, Huang S, Guo X, Li D, Luo Y, Meng Q (2011) Dye-sensitized solar cells with NiS counter electrodes electrodeposited by a potential reversal technique. Energy Environ Sci 4:2630–2637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Xiao Y, Wu J, Lin J, Tai S, Yue G (2013) Pulse electrodeposition of CoS on MWCNT/Ti as a high performance counter electrode for a Pt-free dye-sensitized solar cell. J Mater Chem A 1:1289–1295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Xiao Y, Wu J, Lin J, Yue G, Lin J, Huang M, Huang Y, Lan Z, Fan L (2013) A high performance Pt-free counter electrode of nickel sulfide/multi-wall carbon nanotube/titanium used in dye-sensitized solar cells. J Mater Chem A 1:13885–13889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Chuang H, Li C, Yeh M, Lee C, Vittal R, Ho K (2014) A coral-like film of Ni@NiS with core–shell particles for the counter electrode of an efficient dye-sensitized solar cell. J Mater Chem A 2:5816–5824CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Jeong I, Lee J, Joseph K, Lee H, Kim J, Yoonc S, Lee J (2014) Low-cost electrospun WC/C composite nanofiber as a powerful platinum-free counter electrode for dye sensitized solar cell. Nano Energy 9:392–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Li G, Song J, Pan G, Gao X (2011) Highly Pt-like electrocatalytic activity of transition metal nitrides for dye-sensitized solar cells. Energy Environ Sci 4:1680–1683CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Wu M, Zhang Q, Xiao J, Ma C, Lin X, Miao C, He Y, Gao Y, Hagfeldt A, Ma T (2011) Two flexible counter electrodes based on molybdenum and tungsten nitrides for dye-sensitized solar cells. J Mater Chem 21:10761–10766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Li Q, Wu J, Tang Q, Lan Z, Li P, Lin J (2008) Application of microporous polyaniline counter electrode for dye-sensitized solar cells. Electrochem Commun 10:1299–1302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Xiao Y, Lin J, Tai S, Chou S, Yue G, Wu J (2012) Pulse electropolymerization of high performance PEDOT/MWCNT counter electrodes for Pt-free dye-sensitized solar cells. J Mater Chem 22:19919–19925CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Tang Q, Cai H, Yuan S, Wang X (2013) Counter electrodes from double-layered polyaniline nanostructures for dye-sensitized solar cell applications. J Mater Chem A 1:317–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Xiao Y, Han G, Li Y, Li M, Chang Y (2014) High performance of Pt-free dye-sensitized solar cells based on two-step electropolymerized polyaniline counter electrodes. J Mater Chem A 2:3452–3460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Xu Q, Li M, Yan P, Wei C, Fang L, Wei W, Bao H, Xu J, Xu W (2016) Polypyrrole-coated cotton fabrics prepared by electrochemical polymerization as textile counter electrode for dye-sensitized solar cells. Org Electron 29:107–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Wu J, Li Q, Fan L, Lan Z, Li P, Lin J, Hao S (2008) High-performance polypyrrole nanoparticles counter electrode for dye-sensitized solar cells. J Power Sources 181:172–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Bu C, Tai Q, Liu Y, Guo S, Zhao X (2013) A transparent and stable polypyrrole counter electrode for dye-sensitized solar cell. J Power Sources 221:78–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Banks C, Compton R (2006) New electrodes for old: from carbon nanotubes to edge plane pyrolytic graphite. Analyst 131:15–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Suzuki K, Yamaguchi M, Kumagai M, Yanagida S (2003) Application of carbon nanotubes to counter electrodes of dye-sensitized solar cells. Chem Lett 32:28–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Peng S, Wu Y, Zhu P, Thavasi V, Mhaisalkar S, Ramakrishna S (2011) Facile fabrication of polypyrrole/functionalized multiwalled carbon nanotubes composite as counter electrodes in low-cost dye-sensitized solar cells. J Photochem Photobiol A 223:97–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    He B, Tang Q, Luo J, Li Q, Chen X, Cai H (2014) Rapid charge-transfer in polypyrrole–single wall carbon nanotube complex counter electrodes: improved photovoltaic performances of dye-sensitized solar cells. J Power Sources 256:170–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Yue G, Wang L, Zhang X, Wu J, Jiang Q, Zhang W, Huang M, Lin J (2014) Fabrication of high performance multi-walled carbon nanotubes/polypyrrole counter electrode for dye-sensitized solar cells. Energy 67:460–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Maiaugree W, Lowpa S, Towannang M, Rutphonsan P, Tangtrakarn A, Pimanpang S, Maiaugree P, Ratchapolthavisin N, Sang-aroon W, Jarernboon W, Amornkitbamrung V (2015) A dye sensitized solar cell using natural counter electrode and natural dye derived from mangosteen peel waste. Sci Rep 5:15230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Li H, Xiao Y, Han G, Hou W (2017) Honeycomb-like poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) as an effective and transparent counter electrode in bifacial dye-sensitized solar cells. J Power Sources 342:709–716CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Wu J, Li Y, Tang Q, Yue G, Lin J, Huang M, Meng L (2014) Bifacial dye-sensitized solar cells: a strategy to enhance overall efficiency based on transparent polyaniline electrode. Sci Rep 4:4028CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Rong Y, Ku Z, Li X, Han H (2015) Transparent bifacial dye-sensitized solar cells based on an electrochemically polymerized organic counter electrode and an iodine-free polymer gel electrolyte. J Mater Sci 50:3803–3811. doi:  10.1007/s10853-015-8945-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Pham V, Dang T, Hur S, Kim E, Chung J (2012) Highly conductive poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA)-reduced graphene oxide composite prepared by self-assembly of PMMA latex and graphene oxide through electrostatic interaction. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 4:2630–2636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Zhang J, Zhao X (2012) Conducting polymers directly coated on reduced graphene oxide sheets as high-performance supercapacitor electrodes. J Phys Chem C 116:5420–5426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Hsin Y, Lai J, Hwang K, Lo S, Chen F, Kai J (2006) Rapid surface functionalization of iron-filled multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Carbon 44:3328–3335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Wu T, Lin Y, Liao C (2005) Preparation and characterization of polyaniline/multi-walled carbon nanotube composites. Carbon 43:734–740CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Sharmaa R, Silb A, Ray S (2012) Characterization of plasticized PMMA-LiClO4 solid polymer electrolytes. Adv Mater Res 585:185–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Roy-Mayhew J, Bozym D, Punckt C, Aksay I (2010) Functionalized graphene as a catalytic counter electrode in dye-sensitized solar cells. ACS Nano 4:6203–6211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Wang M, Anghel A, Marsan B, Ha N, Pootrakulchote N, Zakeeruddin S, Grätzel M (2009) CoS supersedes Pt as efficient electrocatalyst for triiodide reduction in dye-sensitized solar cells. J Am Chem Soc 131:15976–15977CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Xiao Y, Wu J, Lin J, Huang M, Fan Lan Z, Han G, Li S (2014) Low temperature fabrication of high performance p-n junction on the Ti foil for use in large-area flexible dye-sensitized solar cells. Electrochim Acta 117:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Koide N, Islam A, Chiba Y, Han L (2006) Improvement of efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells based on analysis of equivalent circuit. J. Photochem. Photobiol. A: Chem. 182:296–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Adachi M, Murata Y, Takao J, Jiu J, Sakamoto M, Wang F (2004) Highly efficient dye-sensitized solar cells with a titania thin-film electrode composed of a network structure of single-crystal-like TiO2 nanowires made by the “oriented attachment” mechanism. J Am Chem Soc 126:14943–14949CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Adachi M, Noda K, Tanino R, Adachi J, Tsuchiya K, Mori Y, Uchida F (2011) Comparison of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy between illumination and dark conditions. Chem Lett 40:890–892CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Adachi M, Sakamoto M, Jiu J, Ogata Y, Isoda S (2006) Determination of parameters of electron transport in dye-sensitized solar cells using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. J Phys Chem B 110:13872–13880CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Molecular Science, Key Laboratory of Chemical Biology and Molecular Engineering of Education Ministry, Innovation Center of Chemistry and Molecular ScienceShanxi UniversityTaiyuanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Materials for Energy Conversion and Storage of Shanxi ProvinceShanxi UniversityTaiyuanPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations