Metal-to-Ligand Charge-Transfer Spectrum of a Ru-Bipyridine-Sensitized TiO2Cluster from Embedded Multiconfigurational Excited-State Theory

John Mark P. Martirez, Emily A. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Understanding optical properties of the dye molecule in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) from first-principles quantum mechanics can contribute to improving the efficiency of such devices. While density functional theory (DFT) and time-dependent DFT have been pivotal in simulating optoelectronic properties of photoanodes used in DSSCs at the atomic scale, questions remain regarding DFT’s adequacy and accuracy to furnish critical information needed to understand the various excited-state processes involved. Here, we simulate the absorption spectra of a dye-sensitized solar cell analogue, comprised of a Ru-bipyridine (Ru-bpy) dye molecule and a small TiO2cluster via DFT and via an accurate embedded correlated wavefunction (CW) theory. We generated CW spectra for the adsorbed Ru-bpy dye via a recently introduced capped density functional embedding theory or capped-DFET (to generate the embedding potential that accounts for the interaction of the molecule and the TiO2cluster). We then combined capped-DFET with the accurate but expensive multiconfigurational complete active space second-order perturbation theory (CASPT2)—embedded CASPT2. Because the CW theory is conducted on only a portion of the total system in the presence of an embedding potential that describes that portion’s interaction with its environment, we efficiently obtain CW-quality predictions that reflect local properties of the entire system. Specifically, for example, with capped-DFET and embedded CW theory, we can simulate accurately a plethora of metal-to-ligand charge-transfer excited properties at a manageable computational cost. Here, we predict detailed electronic spectra within the visible region, featuring the lowest three singlet and triplet excited states, along with predictions of the singlets’ lifetimes. We illustrated these results using a Jablonski diagram that show the relative energy position of the singlet and longer-lived triplet excited states and analyzed and proposed relaxation paths for the excited state corresponding to the most intense but short-lived absorption (interconversion, intersystem crossing, fluorescence, and phosphorescence) that may lead to longer-lived excited states necessary for efficient charge separation required to generate current in solar cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4998-5013
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 17 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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