Energy and Nature - an eternal challenge

Dye solar cells

Fascinated by the function of dyes in photosynthesis I was highly motivated to experiment with them. I painted zinc oxide electrodes with dyes and developed and demonstrated the first dye solar cells first in my PhD thesis in the laboratory of Heinz Gerischer (1968), and then as post doctoral fellow working with Melvin Calvin in Berkeley (1969 – 1971) (ref. 1, 10, 8, 375, 425 in publication list). Dyes like the green plant pigment Chlorophyll can absorb solar light, inject electrons into light transparent materials and, which was the main discovery, thereby drive a photovoltaic cell.  The first cells still had low stability and efficiency, but demonstrated the principle as a model for primary photosynthesis and the route for the development of artificial dye solar cells.

Fig.: Higher life owes its existence to the energy conversion abilities of the green Chlorophyll dye.