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ZnO is an alternative to TiO2-based dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). Adsorption of cis-rutheniumbis [2,2'-bipyridine]-bis[4-thiopyridine] onto ZnO nanorods has been studied using X-ray and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopies (XPS and UPS). XPS indicates chemisorption with a surface density of ca. 1 × 1015 molecules/cm2, confirming the possibility of using thiol-terminated dyes for ZnO-based DSSC devices. The energy level diagram, based on UPS and absorbance spectroscopy, indicates that the LUMO of this dye is lower in energy than the ZnO conduction band edge, providing minimal enthalpic driving force for photovoltaic electron injection. However, optimization of thiol-functionalized Ru dyes could result in competitive ZnO-based DSSCs.