In situ spectroelectrochemical and theoretical study on the oxidation of a 4H-imidazole-ruthenium dye adsorbed on nanocrystalline TiO2 thin film electrodes

in: Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (2015)
Zhang, Ying; Kupfer, Stephan; Zedler, Linda; Schindler, Julian; Bocklitz, Thomas W.; Guthmuller, Julien; Rau, Sven; Dietzek, Benjamin
Terpyridine 4H-imidazole-ruthenium(II) complexes are considered promising candidates for sensitizer in dye sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) by displaying a broad absorption in the visible range, where the dominant absorption features are due to metal-to-ligand charge transfer (MLCT) transitions. The ruthenium(III) intermediates resulting from photoinduced MLCT transitions are essential intermediates in the photoredox-cycle of the DSSC. However, their photophysics is much less studied compared to the ruthenium(II) parent systems. To this end, the structural alterations accompanying one-electron oxidation of the RuIm dye series (including non-carboxylic RuIm precursor, and, carboxylic RuImCOO in solution and anchored to a nanocrystalline TiO2 film) are investigated via in situ experimental and theoretical UV-Vis absorption and resonance Raman (RR) spectroelectrochemistry. The excellent agreement between the experimental and the TDDFT spectra derived in this work allows for an in-depth assignment of UV-Vis and RR spectral features of the dyes. A concordant pronounced wavelength dependence with respect to the charge transfer character has been observed for the model system RuIm, and both RuImCOO in solution and attached on TiO2 surface: Excitation at long wavelengths leads to the population of ligand-to-metal charge transfer states, i.e. photoreduction of the central ruthenium(III) ion, while high-energy excitation features an intra-ligand charge transfer state localized on the 4H-imidazole moiety. Therefore, these 4H-imidazole ruthenium complexes investigated here are potential multi-photoelectron donors: One electron is donated from MLCT states, and additionally, the 4H-imidazole ligand reveals electron-donating character with a significant contribution to the excited states of the ruthenium(III) complexes upon blue-light irradiation.

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