We fabricated zinc oxide (ZnO) nanorods (NRs) with Al-doped ZnO (AZO) seed layers and dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) employed the ZnO NRs between a TiO₂ photoelectrode and a fluorine-doped SnO₂ (FTO) electrode. The growth rate of the NRs was strongly dependent on the seed layer conditions, i.e., thickness, Al dopant and annealing temperature. Attaining a large particle size with a high crystallinity of the seed layer was vital to the well-aligned growth of the NRs. However, the growth was less related to the substrate material (glass and FTO coated glass). With optimized ZnO NRs, the DSSCs exhibited remarkably enhanced photovoltaic performance, because of the increase of dye absorption and fast carrier transfer, which, in turn, led to improved efficiency. The cell with the ZnO NRs grown on an AZO seed layer annealed at 350 °C showed a short-circuit current density (JSC) of 12.56 mA/cm², an open-circuit voltage (VOC) of 0.70 V, a fill factor (FF) of 0.59 and a power conversion efficiency (PCE, η) of 5.20% under air mass 1.5 global (AM 1.5G) illumination of 100 mW/cm².
Keywords: Al-dopant; ZnO; annealing temperature; dye-sensitized solar cells; nanorods.