Iron Chromophores for low-cost solar energy conversion

Value Proposition

Reducing the price of solar energy is imperative to meeting society’s growing power consumption. Unlike traditional solar cells composed of crystalline silicone, a new solar technology known as dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs), can be manufactured using roll-to-roll printing on transparent and flexible materials, thus providing a low-cost alternative for shorter lifetime requiring applications. This not only lowers the cost of solar cell production and installation, but also enables new applications such as photovoltaic building facades, lightweight solar canopies, and solar integrated into consumer goods and electronics. Currently, however, DSSCs require an expensive, rare, and toxic element, ruthenium to support the energy conversion. This severely limits the potential scale of production of DSSCs. This innovation replaces the need for ruthenium in DSSCs with abundant and cheap iron.


This innovation replaces the expensive and toxic rare earth element ruthenium with naturally abundant iron in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). Doing so will lower the manufacturing costs and provide a stable supply-chain for large scale production of DSSCs, a new technology which promises to open up new markets for solar energy through reduced costs.


Low-cost improvement to a promising next generation solar technology.

Duke File (IDF) Number



  • Therien, Michael
  • Bai, Yusong "Yusong"
  • Jiang, Ting "Ting"

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Trinity College of Arts & Sciences