Significant improvements to dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) might soon usher in energy-generating windows, claim researchers from Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

The researchers write in the paper, Hydroxamic Acid Preadsorption Raises Efficiency of Cosensitized Solar Cells, which was published in the journal Nature, that they have developed a method to help DSCs harvest energy from the full visible light spectrum.

This will pave the way for easy access to high-performance DSCs and offer promising prospects for applications ranging from glass facades to skylights and windows, claim the researchers.

DSCs, which are low-cost, thin-film solar cells, convert visible light into electricity through photosensitizers. The design of a DSC aims to generate electric power by moving electrons from the photosensitizer toward an electrical output.

Though DSCs are cheap, they’re not as efficient as conventional solar cells, which delegate both light absorption and energy generation to the semiconductor.

The researcher’s new methods aim to change that. They state that to enhance the efficiency of DSCs, it is crucial to control the “assembly of dye molecules on the surface of nanocrystalline mesoporous titanium dioxide (TiO2) films.”

Pre-adsorbing a single layer of hydroxamic acid derivative on the film’s surface allowed the scientists to improve the molecular packing and performance of two custom-designed sensitizers. These sensitizers were found to be capable of harvesting light from the entire visible spectrum.

As a result, the team was able to develop DSCs with a power conversion efficiency of 15.2% for the first time under standard global simulated sunlight. This percentage is compared to a power conversion efficiency rating of 12.3% in 2019.

Furthermore, by testing the updated DSCs on materials with a larger active surface area, the power conversion efficiency spanned 28.4% to 30.2% over a wide range of ambient light intensities along with outstanding stability.