One candidate is titanium mesh as the open area of the mesh makes it possible for light to penetrate into the cell, allowing front-side illumination. Reporting their results in the journal Nanotechnology, researchers from Pusan National University, South Korea, and Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, China, have put devices to the test.

Fabrication guidelines

The anodic growth of TiO2 nanotubes on a mesh substrate should be carried out at relatively low temperatures compared with growth on a foil substrate. Relatively high growth temperatures give rise to a higher oxidation rate and produce longer nanotubes, but these conditions also speed up the dissolution of the top part of the nanotubes, resulting in a jumbled surface.

In the study, the team compared the conversion efficiencies of DSSCs based on mesh- and foil-type substrates. The results demonstrated the superiority of the mesh-type DSSCs, as the efficiency was found to be two times higher than DSSCs based on a foil-type substrate. What is more, the mesh structure is highly bendable, which allows the solar cell to flex to suit various applications.

The flexible DSSCs featuring titanium mesh as both photoanode and cathode substrates are transparent, lightweight and available in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Full details can be found in the journal Nanotechnology.