Investigation of lithium salt-nonionic surfactant mesophases and their applications in solar cells as gel electrolyte
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Some salts and some nonionic surfactants self-assemble together into lyotropic liquid crystalline (LLC) mesophases. The salt can be either in aqueous solution phase or in its molten phase in the self-assembly process. Concentrated aqueous solutions of lithium salts (LiCl, LiBr, or LiI) and pluronics (triblock copolymers, such as P65, P85, P103, or P123) or 10-lauryl ether (C12H25(CH2CH2O)10OH, denoted as C12EO10) type nonionic surfactant mesophases were investigated in this thesis work. The LLC mesophases are well ordered between 5.0 and 25.0 salt/pluronics and 2.0 and 10.0 salt/C12EO10 mole ratios, and remain stable for months under the ambient conditions. The water molecules remain as the hydrates under open atmosphere in the LLC mesophases of lithium salts-nonionic surfactants. The lithium salt-pluronic LLC mesophases are birefringent and have a hexagonal mesophase in a broad range of salt concentrations. The unit cell of the mesophases increases and a transition from the hexagonal to a cubic mesophases occurs upon increasing the salt content of the media. Moreover the LLC mesophases are ordered and stable up to 25.0 salt to pluronic mole ratio. At higher salt content, one can observe either a disordered phase or co-existence of salt crystals and mesophase. There is a big demand on the gel electrolytes for dye sensitized solar cells (DSSC) in order to overcome solvent problems caused by liquid electrolytes. The LLC mesophases of LiI, LiCl and LiBr salts with 10-lauryl ether (C12EO10) has been considered as gel-electrolyte for the DSSC. We demonstrate that the LiI/I2 couple can be incorporated into above LLC mesophases of various lithium salt-nonionic surfactant systems. Those LLC phases, with LiI/I2 couple have been characterized by means of diffraction, microscopy, spectroscopy and conductivity measurements. The LLC mesophases diffract at small angles and do not show any phase segregation upon incorporating the LiI/I2 redox couple. The LLC mesophases of these systems are 2D hexagonal, and they remain stable under ambient conditions for months. In the LLC media, the iodide ion and iodine molecule react to produce triodide ion in the media. The iodide/triodide (I- /I3 - ) redox couples containing gel electrolytes were formed and their solar performance was investigated by using a solar simulator and a cell consisting of a dye sensitized anode (FTO-dye modified TiO2), gel-electrolyte, and a cathode (FTO-Pt nanoparticles). The LLC mesophases of various lithium saltnonionic surfactant systems with the I- /I3 - redox couple were characterized using POM (Polarized Optical Microscope), XRD (X-ray Diffraction), FT-IR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) and Raman techniques. These new LLC mesophases can be used as gel electrolytes in solar cells after incorporation of redox couple into the media and display responses as good as commonly used liquid electrolytes.
KeywordsLyotropic Liquid Crystal
Concentrated Aqueous Solution