What is a Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell?
Solar cells convert solar light energy into electricity, but traditional models can be inefficient in some applications and environments. Dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) devices are optimized to generate power, even from ambient light energy. By affixing these cells to sensors, users can equip instrumentation, building monitoring systems, signage, structures, and more with the self-powering devices that do not require ongoing attention. The dyed cells enable high-efficiency energy production, even in low sunlight conditions.
These solar cells are commonly used in environments where other forms of energy production and storage — such as wired power or batteries — aren't possible. This includes any projects requiring a high number of sensors spread across a large surface area, remote and inaccessible locations, and areas in sub-zero temperature environments.
How Do Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells Work?
There are four key layers that sunlight passes through in dye-sensitized solar cells:
- The electrode: First, sunlight or artificial light passes through the glass conductor on the cell surface and through the electrode.
- The dye: Next, it touches the dye layer. The dye is photoactive and produces electricity once the light sensitizes it. The light and dye layer excite the surrounding electrons, and the dye pushes the electrons into titanium dioxide within the solar cell.
- The electrolytes: From there, non-crystalline titanium dioxide conducts the electron away, where a chemical electrolyte conducts the electron back towards the dye layer. The continual movement of electrons results in usable power.
- The counter electrode: This component catalyzes the electrolyte's redox reduction. By including a counter electrode, the solar cell is more stable and offers better performance throughout its lifespan.
More simply put, ambient light triggers the dye to start exciting and moving electrons. That energy can then be used by sensors, electrical devices, and more.
Features of Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells
Dye-sensitized solar cells are remarkable because of their ability to operate in non-ideal light conditions, such as environments with relatively little light or poorly angled light. Modern dye-sensitized cells also offer these key benefits:
- Simplified production. Dye-sensitized solar cells are cost-efficient to produce. Combined with the extended lifespan, the return on investment grows over time.
- Energy efficiency. These solar cells have a high-conversion efficiency that's aided by the dye. Structures and signs can easily be outfitted with small panels that provide sufficient power. Fujikura DSSC products can operate anywhere from 100lx to 100,000lx.
- Optional features. Dye-sensitized solar cells can be modified to meet a wide variety of application needs.
Applications for Our Fujikura DSSC Products
Dye-sensitized solar cells are ideal for "fit and forget" applications — use cases when the structure may not be routinely inspected or visited, or in busy environments where maintenance demands are inconvenient. Some of the most popular applications for our dye-sensitized solar cells include:
- Warehouse management. Dye-sensitized solar cells can power sensors for refrigeration units, humidity monitors, inventory monitors, and more. These devices provide direct power without the need for wiring.
- Optimizing commercial HVAC systems. Building managers can monitor HVAC conditions such as power consumption, humidity, and moisture to stay ahead of developing malfunctions. Our DSSC products reliably provide power to sensors, so there's minimal risk of losing oversight.
- Sensors and reporting systems. Sensors that monitor energy and water usage can be used in everything from retail stores and commercial rooftops to commercial and residential landscaping irrigation systems.
- Disaster prevention. DSSC units have been used to power remote sensors near rivers that monitor potential rising water levels during flood seasons, alert organizations about landslides, and provide other early warnings for natural disasters.
- Retail store beacons. Retailers can power Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) beacons with dye-sensitized solar cells for in-store monitoring, data, and logistics.
Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells From Servoflo
At Servoflo, we specialize in offering high-performance solar cells that meet the unique needs and environmental constraints of every client we serve. Our DSSC products are built to provide efficient power even in poor lighting conditions and extreme environments. Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities or to start powering your next project. You can also visit our DSSC page on our website.