ACS applied materials & interfaces

Monitoring N3 dye adsorption and desorption on TiO2 surfaces: a combined QCM-D and XPS study.

PMID 24848580


Understanding the kinetics of dye adsorption and desorption on semiconductors is crucial for optimizing the performance of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) measures adsorbed mass in real time, allowing determination of binding kinetics. In this work, we characterize adsorption of the common RuBipy dye N3 to the native oxide layer of a planar, sputter-coated titanium surface, simulating the TiO2 substrate of a DSSC. We report adsorption equilibrium constants consistent with prior optical measurements of N3 adsorption. Dye binding and surface integrity were also verified by scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). We further study desorption of the dye from the native oxide layer on the QCM sensors using tetrabutylammonium hydroxide (TBAOH), a commonly used industrial desorbant. We find that using TBAOH as a desorbant does not fully regenerate the surface, though little ruthenium or nitrogen is observed by XPS after desorption, suggesting that carboxyl moieties of N3 remain bound. We demonstrate the native oxide layer of a titanium sensor as a valid and readily available planar TiO2 morphology to study dye adsorption and desorption and begin to investigate the mechanism of dye desorption in DSSCs, a system that requires further study.