We report the synthesis and characterization of new metal-free organic dyes (namely B18, BTD-R, and CPTD-R) which designed with D-p-A concept to extending the light absorption region by strong conjugation group of p-linker part and applied as light harvester in dye sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). We compared the photovoltaic performance of these dyes in two different photoanodes: a standard TiO2 mesoporous photoanode and a ZnO photoanode composed of hierarchically assembled nanostructures. The results demonstrated that B18 dye has better photovoltaic properties compared to other two dyes (BTD-R and CPTD-R) and each dye has higher current density (J(sc)) when applied to hierarchical ZnO nanocrystallites than the standard TiO2 mesoporous film. Transient photocurrent and photovoltage decay measurements (TCD/TVD) were applied to systematically study the charge transport and recombination kinetics in these devices, showing the electron life time (T-R) of B18 dye in ZnO and TiO2 based DSSCs is higher than CPTD-R and BTD-R based DSSCs, which is consistent with the photovoltaic performances. The conversion efficiency in ZnO based DSSCs can be further boosted by 35%, when a compact ZnO blocking layer (BL) is applied to inhibit electron back reaction.
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