Creation of oxygen vacancies to activate WO 3 for higher efficiency dye-sensitized solar cells

Hytham Elbohy, Khan Mamun Reza, Salem Abdulkarim, Qiquan Qiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


In this work, oxygen vacancies were created to activate tungsten trioxide (WO 3 ) as a highly efficient counter electrode (CE) in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). The levels of oxygen vacancies (OVs) in WO 3 were finely formed and tuned by doping with different weight percentages (3, 5, and 9 wt%) of urea and annealing in a N 2 environment at 470 °C. The urea doped WO 3 significantly improved the electrocatalytic behaviour in the iodide-triiodide electrolyte. The effects of OVs on the catalytic performance of WO 3 CEs were fully studied and understood. This improvement was attributed to the introduction of OVs into WO 3 , which acted as surface shallow states to facilitate electron transfer from the WO 3 counter electrode to the electrolyte. At a high temperature of 470 °C, urea decomposes into the reactive H 2 gas that can remove oxygen atoms from the WO 3 surface and create OVs. 5 wt% urea was found to be the optimal urea concentration that led to the highest catalytic performance as evidenced by the cyclic voltammetry measurements. The 5 wt% urea doped WO 3 CE-based device achieved a power conversion efficiency (PCE) of ∼10.5%, which was improved from the reference Pt CE-based device at ∼9.3% and non-active WO 3 CE based cell at 3.32%. This has led to the optimal number of OVs that facilitate the charge transfer at the CE/electrolyte interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-412
Number of pages10
JournalSustainable Energy and Fuels
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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