A new series of N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC)-pyridine ruthenium complexes incorporating a carbene unit as an ancillary ligand were designed and successfully synthesized by using simple synthetic methods. The photophysical, electrochemical and photovoltaic properties of these NHC-pyridine based ruthenium complexes were investigated. These complexes showed photoelectric conversion efficiencies in the range of 6.43 similar to 7.24% under the illumination of AM 1.5 (100 mW cm(-2)). Interestingly, the modifications on the ancillary ligand of these sensitizers by removal of an alkoxyl group and replacement of the octyl chain with a 3,5-difluorobenzyl group showed a 13% increase in the conversion efficiency for the CifPR dye. These results demonstrated that structural modifications on the NHC-pyridine ancillary ligand of ruthenium complexes results in dye-sensitized solar cells exhibiting a comparable cell performance to that obtained using the standard N719 dye.