Simulations of a Ruthenium Complex and the Iodide/Triiodide Redox Couple in Aqueous Solution: Solvation and Electronic Structure
In dye-sensitized solar cells, the functions of light absorption and charge transport are separated. A photosensitive ruthenium-polypyridine dye in the cell absorbs light, injects an electron to a semiconductor and is then regenerated by a redox couple, typically iodide/triiodide. Quantum chemical calculations of the electronic structure of triiodide have been carried out with the restricted active space SCF method, including spin-orbit coupling, and with density functional theory. It was shown that the difference in charge density between the terminal and central atoms results in a splitting of the core levels. The calculations gave a value of the splitting of 0.8 - 1.0 eV for the 3d and 4d levels. Experimentally, the electronic structure has been investigated with photoelectronspectroscopy. The measured terminal/center splitting is 1.1 eV.The spin-orbit interaction of the 4d levels of triiodide has also been calculated. The splitting was determined to be 1.6 eV. The experimental value is 1.7 eV. An assignment of the peaks in the computed spectrum of triiodide was made and the features of the experimental spectrum have beenidentied.The theoretical valence spectrum of triiodide has been computed and assigned. The results can be used in the analysis of photoelectron spectra of the molecule. Information about the electronic structure of the redox couple can help in the understanding of the electron transfer processes and forfurther development of the solar cells. Furthermore, the solvation structure of the prototype dye, the tris(bipyridine)ruthenium(II) complex, in water and its interaction with iodide and chloride has been studied by means of molecular dynamics simulations. The trajectory analysis showed that the water molecules in the first solvation shell form a chain in between the bipyridine ligands. It was found that the iodide ions are more likely than chloride to enter between the ligands, which can be important for the electron transfer processin the solar cell.
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