A series of new organic dyes comprising carbazole, iminodibenzyl, and phenothiazine moieties as the electron donors and rhodanine ring as the electron acceptor/anchoring groups were designed and developed for use in dye-sensitized solar cells. HOMO and LUMO energy level tuning was achieved by varying the carbazole, iminodibenzyls and phenothiazine donors. This was evidenced by spectral and electrochemical experiments and density functional theory calculations. Electrochemical studies indicated that the phenothiazine unit was much more effective in lowering the ionization potential than were the iminodibenzyl and carbazole units. The phenothiazine dye shows a solar-energy-to-electricity conversion efficiency (η) of 4.87%; the carbazole and iminodibenzyl dyes show η of 2.54% and 3.52%, respectively. These findings reveal that using carbazole, iminodibenzyl and phenothiazine donors as light-harvesting sensitizers are promising candidates for dye-sensitized solar cells.
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