Study on Nature-inspired Fractal Design-based Flexible Counter Electrodes for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells Fabricated using Additive Manufacturing

Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC) are third generation solar cells used as an alternative to traditional silicon solar cells. DSSCs are characterized by their durability, easy handling and ability to perform better under diverse lighting conditions which makes them an ideal choice for indoor applications. However, DSSCs suffer from several limitations including low efficiencies, susceptibility to electrolyte leakage under extreme weather conditions, and the need for expensive materials and fabrication techniques which limits their large-scale industrial applications. Addressing these limitations through efficient design and manufacturing techniques are critical in ensuring that the DSSCs transform from the current small-scale laboratory levels to sizeable industrial production. This research attempts to address some of these significant limitations by introducing the concepts of nature-inspired fractal-based design followed by the additive manufacturing process to fabricate cost-effective, flexible counter electrodes for DSSCs. The new conceptual fractal-based design counter electrodes overcome the limitations of conventional planar designs by significantly increasing the number of active reaction sites which enhances the catalytic activity thereby improving the performance. The fabrication of these innovative fractal designs is realized through cost-effective manufacturing techniques including additive manufacturing and selective electrochemical co-deposition processes. The results of the study suggest that the fractal-based counter electrodes perform better than conventional designs. Additionally, the fractal designs and additive manufacturing technology help in addressing the problems of electrolyte leakage, cost of fabrication, and scalability of DSSCs.