Plasmonic core-shell nanoparticles (PCSNPs) can function as nanoantennas and improve the efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). To achieve maximum enhancement, the morphology of PCSNPs needs to be optimized. Here we precisely control the morphology of Au@TiO2 PCSNPs and systematically study its influence on the plasmonic enhancement effect. The enhancement mechanism was found to vary with the thickness of the TiO2 shell. PCSNPs with a thinner shell mainly enhance the current, whereas particles with a thicker shell improve the voltage. While pronounced plasmonic enhancement was found in the near infrared regime, wavelength-independent enhancement in the visible range was observed and attributed to the plasmonic heating effect. Emission lifetime measurement confirms that N719 molecules neighboring nanoparticles with TiO2 shells exhibit a longer lifetime than those in contact with metal cores. Overall, PCSNPs with a 5 nm shell give the highest efficiency enhancement of 23%. Our work provides a new synthesis route for well-controlled Au@TiO2 core-shell nanoparticles and gains insight into the plasmonic enhancement in DSSCs.
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