Abstract Nanocrystallite anatase TiO 2 powders were synthesized by a simple polymer gel assisted combustion method and characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis. Poly-(vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP) was used as a dispersing agent and triethanolamine was used as a complexing and combustion agent. TiO 2 nanopowders of an anatase and rutile structures with a narrow size distribution were obtained at 450, 500 and 600 °C. Structural studies were examined by XRD and FT-IR. The average crystallite sizes were measured from most intense XRD peak using the Scherrer formula, it increased with increasing calcination temperature. Their morphology and particle size were investigated by scanning electron microscopy. The particle size of all the samples was found in the range between 20 and 115 nm. TiO 2 powder synthesized at 450, 500 and 600 °C was applied to dye-sensitized solar cell. The power conversion efficiency varied with increasing calcination temperature. The power conversion efficiency was higher for the sample calcined at 450 °C. An efficiency of 5.8% for the conversion of solar energy to electricity ( J sc = 11.94 mA/cm 2, V oc = 0.75 V and FF = 0.64) was obtained for the TiO 2 nanopowders synthesised by a simple and low cost polymer gel assisted combustion method at 450 °C.