Journal of Undergraduate Research


dye sensitized solar cells, native and non-native nanocrystals, ferritin as dye


Physical and Mathematical Sciences


Physics and Astronomy


Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) present a valuable and sustainable alternative to silicon solar cells. These cells present numerous advantages compered to inorganic photovoltaic systems, such as ability of absorb more sunlight per surface area than standard silicon-based solar panels, DSSCs are also able to work even in low-light conditions such as non-direct sunlight and cloudy skies. Finally, they are economical, easy to manufacture and constructed from abundant and stable resource materials. This makes DSSCs an attractive replacement for current photovoltaic technology. Ferritin (FTN) is a 12 nm diameter spherical protein with an 8 nm hollow interior, which naturally contains iron oxide nanocrystals in the form of ferrihydrite (Fe(O)OH). The natural core of ferritin can be removed and other metal oxide nanoparticles can be synthesized inside the empty ferritin. The choice of metal used in the growth of the nanoparticles determines the wavelengths of light that can be absorbed1. Recent studies also shown that the theoretical maximum efficiency of a solar device made using a combination of (Fe(O)OH), (Co(O)OH), (Mn(O)OH) and (Ti(O)OH) nanocrystals synthesized inside ferritin is up to 38% solar energy conversion6.

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