ABSTRACT: Intrinsic low stability and short excited lifetimes associated with Ag nanoclusters (NCs) are major hurdles that have prevented the full utilization of the many advantages of Ag NCs over their longtime contender, Au NCs, in light energy conversion systems. In this report, we diagnosed the problems of conventional thiolated Ag NCs used for solar cell applications and developed a new synthesis route to form aggregation-induced emission (AIE)- type Ag NCs that can significantly overcome these limitations. A series of Ag(0)/Ag(I)-thiolate core/shell-structured NCs with different core sizes were explored for photoelectrodes, and the nature of the two important interfacial events occurring in Ag NC- sensitized solar cells (photoinduced electron transfer and charge recombination) were unveiled by in-depth spectroscopic and electrochemical analyses. This work reveals that the subtle interplay between the light absorbing capability, charge separation dynamics, and charge recombination kinetics in the photoelectrode dictates the solar cell performance. In addition, we demonstrate significant improvement in the photocurrent stability and light conversion efficiency that have not been achieved previously. Our comprehensive understanding of the critical parameters that limit the light conversion efficiency lays a foundation on which new principles for designing Ag NCs for efficient light energy conversion can be built. KEYWORDS:
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