To study the fundamental energy storage mechanism of photovoltaically self-charging cells (PSCs) without involving light-responsive semiconductor materials such as Si powder and ZnO nanowires, we fabricate a two-electrode PSC with the dual functions of photocurrent output and energy storage by introducing a PVDF film dielectric on the counterelectrode of a dye-sensitized solar cell. A layer of ultrathin Au film used as a quasi-electrode establishes a shared interface for the I−/I3− redox reaction and for the contact between the electrolyte and the dielectric for the energy storage, and prohibits recombination during the discharging period because of its discontinuity. PSCs with a 10-nm-thick PVDF provide a steady photocurrent output and achieve a light-to-electricity conversion efficiency (η) of 3.38%, and simultaneously offer energy storage with a charge density of 1.67 C g−1. Using this quasi-electrode design, optimized energy storage structures may be used in PSCs for high energy storage density.

Graphical Abstract

Schematics of the structure and mechanism of TiO2 DSSC with energy storage function by modifying the CE with PVDF dielectric.

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