The optical and electronic properties of a TiO2 nanoparticle-assisted photo-isomerizable surface, prepared by an azo dye/TiO2 nanocomposite film, are examined experimentally and computationally. The azo dye, para-methyl red, undergoes photoisomerization at room temperature, catalyzed by the TiO2 nanoparticle supports, while it exhibits negligible photoisomerization in solvents under otherwise identical conditions. Density functional theory and time-dependent density functional theory are employed to explain the origin of this photoisomerization in these dye···TiO2 nanoparticle self-assembled monolayers (SAMs). The device performance of these SAMs when embedded into dye-sensitized solar cells is used to further elucidate the nature of this azo dye photoisomerization and relate it to the ensuing optoelectronic properties.
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