Dang, X., Yi, H., Ham, M. H., Qi, J., Yun, D. S., Ladewski, R., … & Belcher, A. M. (2011). Virus-templated self-assembled single-walled carbon nanotubes for highly efficient electron collection in photovoltaic devices. Nature Nanotechnology, 6(6), 377.
The performance of photovoltaic devices could be improved by using rationally designed nanocomposites with high electron mobility to efficiently collect photo-generated electrons. Single-walled carbon nanotubes exhibit very high electron mobility, but the incorporation of such nanotubes into nanocomposites to create efficient photovoltaic devices is challenging. Here, we report the synthesis of single-walled carbon nanotube–TiO2 nanocrystal core–shell nanocomposites using a genetically engineered M13 virus as a template. By using the nanocomposites as photoanodes in dye-sensitized solar cells, we demonstrate that even small fractions of nanotubes improve the power conversion efficiency by increasing the electron collection efficiency. We also show that both the electronic type and degree of bundling of the nanotubes in the nanotube/TiO2 complex are critical factors in determining device performance. With our approach, we achieve a power conversion efficiency in the dye-sensitized solar cells of 10.6%.