Date Thesis Awarded


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)


Interdisciplinary Studies


William Cooke

Committee Members

Dennis Manos

Kristin Wustholz


An experiment was conducted at the college of William and Mary to explore the ability of wild type diatoms to enhance the abilities of a Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell (DSSC). The goal was to see if the efficiency of a solar cell could be enhanced by the addition of wild-type diatoms in the active layer of the cell, and if there was any notable advantage to using diatoms where the frustule material had been altered. For this purpose, diatoms were cleaned using near-boiling baths of hydrogen peroxide and then coated in Titanium Dioxide using a peptide-mediated deposition [1]. Diatoms were tested under the TOF-SIMS and found to have an average atomic count Ti:Si ratio of 2.5 (range of .54—4.6) Ti/Si. DSSCs were then assembled: Two with no diatoms, two with uncoated diatoms, and two with coated diatoms. The cells without diatoms were found to have an efficiency of 1.78% ± .23%, the uncoated diatoms cells were found to have an efficiency of 1.11% ± .57%, and the coated diatoms cells were found to have an efficiency of .6311% ± .04%. These results do not show any indication that the diatoms have increased the efficiency of the solar cells at this time, nor is there any evidence that altering the frustrule material is advantageous for solar cell efficiency. These results may be due to problems in the consistency of our assembly process, and further research should focus on developing a method for depositing a reliable thickness for the TiO2 layer, and solving the saturation problem currently seen in our cells.