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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical Engineering and Computer Science


Solar energy is clean and sustainable and has drawn worldwide attention due to increasing energy demand, but the cost of conventional silicon based solar cells still remains high. Dye sensitized solar cells (DSCs) provide a low cost alternative to silicon solar cells due to their low material and fabrication costs. Most DSCs use platinum to catalyze the iodine redox couple and complete the electric circuit. Since platinum is expensive, carbonaceous materials have been widely investigated as replacements. The performance of platinum based DSCs has been limited by high charge transfer resistance between the electrolyte and the counter electrode whereas the performance of carbon based DSCs has been limited by high series resistance of the counter electrode. In this work, electrospun carbon nanofibers and carbon nanoparticles were studied as support for platinum nanoparticles in the counter electrodes of DSCs. Both materials had better electrocatalytic properties, as evidenced by higher cathodic peak current and lower charge transfer resistance; and comparable conductivity, as evidenced from the series resistance compared with reference platinum based devices. As a result, both electrospun carbon nanofibers supported platinum nanoparticles (ECN/Pt) and carbon nanoparticles supported platinum nanoparticles (CNP/Pt) based DSCs had higher power conversion efficiency than reference platinum based DSCs. CNP/Pt based DSCs had the highest efficiency (8.12%) among all candidate cells and at relatively small thickness of 4 μm CNP/Pt based DSCs had comparable efficiency (7.86%) to 50 μm thick ECN/Pt based DSCs (7.98%) indicating the superiority of carbon nanoparticles over electrospun carbon nanofibers as support for platinum nanoparticles.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dye-sensitized solar cells
Nanostructured materials


Includes bibliographical references (pages 63-75).



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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