We developed a unique strategy for fabricating hierarchically structured (nanoparticles-in-beads) Zn2SnO4 beads (ZTO-Bs), which were then used to produce ternary metal oxide-based dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). DSSCs were fabricated using the ZTO-Bs as the photoelectrodes and highly absorbable organic dyes as the sensitizers. The DSSCs based on the ZTO-Bs and the organic dyes (SJ-E1 and SJ-ET1) exhibited the highest performance ever reported for DSSCs with ternary metal oxide-based photoelectrodes. The optimized DSSCs exhibited a power conversion efficiency of 6.3% (VOC of 0.71 V, JSC of 12.2 mA cm-2, FF of 0.72), which was much higher than that for DSSCs with conventional ZTO-NPs-based photoelectrodes or those based on the popular ruthenium-based dye, N719. The unique morphology of the ZTO-Bs allowed for improvements in dye absorption, light scattering, electrolyte penetration, and the charge recombination lifetime, while the organic dyes resulted in high molar absorbability.
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