Investigating Calotropis Procera natural dye extracts and PDOT:PSS hole transport material for dye-sensitized solar cells
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In this work, natural dye extracts from Calotropis Procera are used as the main dyesensitizer in solar cells. The Calotropis plant is a non-food item capable of surviving the harsh climate of the United Arab Emirates. Its incorporation into dye-sensitized solar cells is tested by constructing various cells, whose performance was also compared to that of more common chlorophyll-based dye extracts (i.e. spinach) as well as compared against a baseline cell sensitized with a synthetic ruthenium dye. The performance of the Calotropis-based cells was in general better than those with other natural sensitizers, but of course scored lower efficiency results when compared to cells built with synthetic dyes (0.075% compared to 5.11%). The advantage in using a natural sensitizer include facile extraction and preparation, low cost and abundance, since the Calotropis source has no competing applications in terms of food, livestock feed, etc. The figureof-merit of cell output vs. cost for such cells makes them a good contender for further research and development effort to overcome the obvious drawbacks of stability and service longevity. Adding a hole-transport material to the cells in the form of PEDOT:PSS was also attempted to assess the enhancement it could provide to the cells. This did not yield the desired results and more experiments have to be done to better understand the interaction of each added layer to the original cell design.