Publications


Halide Segregation in Mixed-Halide Perovskites: Influence of A-Site Cations.

ACS Energy Lett 6 (2021) 799-808

AJ Knight, J Borchert, RDJ Oliver, JB Patel, PG Radaelli, HJ Snaith, MB Johnston, LM Herz

Mixed-halide perovskites offer bandgap tunability essential for multijunction solar cells; however, a detrimental halide segregation under light is often observed. Here we combine simultaneous in situ photoluminescence and X-ray diffraction measurements to demonstrate clear differences in compositional and optoelectronic changes associated with halide segregation in MAPb(Br0.5I0.5)3 and FA0.83Cs0.17Pb(Br0.4I0.6)3 films. We report evidence for low-barrier ionic pathways in MAPb(Br0.5I0.5)3, which allow for the rearrangement of halide ions in localized volumes of perovskite without significant compositional changes to the bulk material. In contrast, FA0.83Cs0.17Pb(Br0.4I0.6)3 lacks such low-barrier ionic pathways and is, consequently, more stable against halide segregation. However, under prolonged illumination, it exhibits a considerable ionic rearrangement throughout the bulk material, which may be triggered by an initial demixing of A-site cations, altering the composition of the bulk perovskite and reducing its stability against halide segregation. Our work elucidates links between composition, ionic pathways, and halide segregation, and it facilitates the future engineering of phase-stable mixed-halide perovskites.


Nanotechnology for catalysis and solar energy conversion.

Nanotechnology 32 (2021) 042003-

U Banin, N Waiskopf, L Hammarström, G Boschloo, M Freitag, EMJ Johansson, J Sá, H Tian, MB Johnston, LM Herz, RL Milot, MG Kanatzidis, W Ke, I Spanopoulos, KL Kohlstedt, GC Schatz, N Lewis, T Meyer, AJ Nozik, MC Beard, F Armstrong, CF Megarity, CA Schmuttenmaer, VS Batista, GW Brudvig

This roadmap on Nanotechnology for Catalysis and Solar Energy Conversion focuses on the application of nanotechnology in addressing the current challenges of energy conversion: 'high efficiency, stability, safety, and the potential for low-cost/scalable manufacturing' to quote from the contributed article by Nathan Lewis. This roadmap focuses on solar-to-fuel conversion, solar water splitting, solar photovoltaics and bio-catalysis. It includes dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs), perovskite solar cells, and organic photovoltaics. Smart engineering of colloidal quantum materials and nanostructured electrodes will improve solar-to-fuel conversion efficiency, as described in the articles by Waiskopf and Banin and Meyer. Semiconductor nanoparticles will also improve solar energy conversion efficiency, as discussed by Boschloo et al in their article on DSSCs. Perovskite solar cells have advanced rapidly in recent years, including new ideas on 2D and 3D hybrid halide perovskites, as described by Spanopoulos et al 'Next generation' solar cells using multiple exciton generation (MEG) from hot carriers, described in the article by Nozik and Beard, could lead to remarkable improvement in photovoltaic efficiency by using quantization effects in semiconductor nanostructures (quantum dots, wires or wells). These challenges will not be met without simultaneous improvement in nanoscale characterization methods. Terahertz spectroscopy, discussed in the article by Milot et al is one example of a method that is overcoming the difficulties associated with nanoscale materials characterization by avoiding electrical contacts to nanoparticles, allowing characterization during device operation, and enabling characterization of a single nanoparticle. Besides experimental advances, computational science is also meeting the challenges of nanomaterials synthesis. The article by Kohlstedt and Schatz discusses the computational frameworks being used to predict structure-property relationships in materials and devices, including machine learning methods, with an emphasis on organic photovoltaics. The contribution by Megarity and Armstrong presents the 'electrochemical leaf' for improvements in electrochemistry and beyond. In addition, biohybrid approaches can take advantage of efficient and specific enzyme catalysts. These articles present the nanoscience and technology at the forefront of renewable energy development that will have significant benefits to society.


Terahertz Conductivity Analysis for Highly Doped Thin-Film Semiconductors

JOURNAL OF INFRARED MILLIMETER AND TERAHERTZ WAVES (2020)

AM Ulatowski, LM Herz, MB Johnston


Impact of tin fluoride additive on the properties of mixed tin-lead iodide perovskite semiconductors

Advanced Functional Materials Wiley 30 (2020) 2005594

KJ Savill, AM Ulatowski, MD Farrar, MB Johnston, HJ Snaith, LM Herz

Mixed tin‐lead halide perovskites are promising low‐bandgap absorbers for all‐perovskite tandem solar cells that offer higher efficiencies than single‐junction devices. A significant barrier to higher performance and stability is the ready oxidation of tin, commonly mitigated by various additives whose impact is still poorly understood for mixed tin‐lead perovskites. Here, the effects of the commonly used SnF2 additive are revealed for FA0.83Cs0.17SnxPb1−xI3 perovskites across the full compositional lead‐tin range and SnF2 percentages of 0.1–20% of precursor tin content. SnF2 addition causes a significant reduction in the background hole density associated with tin vacancies, yielding longer photoluminescence lifetimes, decreased energetic disorder, reduced Burstein–Moss shifts, and higher charge‐carrier mobilities. Such effects are optimized for SnF2 addition of 1%, while for 5% SnF2 and above, additional nonradiative recombination pathways begin to appear. It is further found that the addition of SnF2 reduces a tetragonal distortion in the perovskite structure deriving from the presence of tin vacancies that cause strain, particularly for high tin content. The optical phonon response associated with inorganic lattice vibrations is further explored, exhibiting a shift to higher frequency and significant broadening with increasing tin fraction, in accordance with lower effective atomic metal masses and shorter phonon lifetimes.


Efficient energy transfer mitigates parasitic light absorption in molecular charge-extraction layers for perovskite solar cells

Nature Communications Springer Science 11 (2020) 5525

HJ Eggimann, JB Patel, MB Johnston, LM Herz

Organic semiconductors are commonly used as charge-extraction layers in metal-halide perovskite solar cells. However, parasitic light absorption in the sun-facing front molecular layer, through which sun light must propagate before reaching the perovskite layer, may lower the power conversion efficiency of such devices. Here, we show that such losses may be eliminated through efficient excitation energy transfer from a photoexcited polymer layer to the underlying perovskite. Experimentally observed energy transfer between a range of different polymer films and a methylammonium lead iodide perovskite layer was used as basis for modelling the efficacy of the mechanism as a function of layer thickness, photoluminescence quantum efficiency and absorption coefficient of the organic polymer film. Our findings reveal that efficient energy transfer can be achieved for thin (≤10 nm) organic charge-extraction layers exhibiting high photoluminescence quantum efficiency. We further explore how the morphology of such thin polymer layers may be affected by interface formation with the perovskite.


Atomic-scale microstructure of metalhalide perovskite

Science American Association for the Advancement of Science 370 (2020) eabb5940

J Kim, H Snaith, M Johnston, L Herz, AJ Borchert, M Rothmann

Hybrid organic-inorganic perovskites are exciting materials for solar-energy applications whose microscopic properties are still not well understood. Atomic-resolution (scanning) transmission electron microscopy, (S)TEM, has provided invaluable insights for many crystalline solar-cell materials, and is used here to successfully image CH(NH2)2PbI3 thin films with low electron-radiation dose. Such images reveal a highly ordered atomic arrangement of sharp grain boundaries and coherent perovskite/PbI2 interfaces, with a striking absence of long-range disorder in the crystal. We demonstrate that beaminduced degradation of the perovskite leads to an initial loss of CH(NH2)2 + ions, leaving behind a partially unoccupied perovskite lattice, which explains the unusual regenerative properties of these materials. We further observe aligned point defects and climbdissociated dislocations. Our findings thus provide an atomic-level understanding of technologically important lead-halide perovskites.


Charge‐carrier trapping and radiative recombination in metal halide perovskite semiconductors

Advanced Functional Materials Wiley (2020) 2004312-2004312

MJ Trimpl, AD Wright, K Schutt, LRV Buizza, Z Wang, MB Johnston, H Snaith, P Müller‐Buschbaum, LM Herz

Trap‐related charge‐carrier recombination fundamentally limits the performance of perovskite solar cells and other optoelectronic devices. While improved fabrication and passivation techniques have reduced trap densities, the properties of trap states and their impact on the charge‐carrier dynamics in metal‐halide perovskites are still under debate. Here, a unified model is presented of the radiative and nonradiative recombination channels in a mixed formamidinium‐cesium lead iodide perovskite, including charge‐carrier trapping, de‐trapping and accumulation, as well as higher‐order recombination mechanisms. A fast initial photoluminescence (PL) decay component observed after pulsed photogeneration is demonstrated to result from rapid localization of free charge carriers in unoccupied trap states, which may be followed by de‐trapping, or nonradiative recombination with free carriers of opposite charge. Such initial decay components are shown to be highly sensitive to remnant charge carriers that accumulate in traps under pulsed‐laser excitation, with partial trap occupation masking the trap density actually present in the material. Finally, such modelling reveals a change in trap density at the phase transition, and disentangles the radiative and nonradiative charge recombination channels present in FA0.95Cs0.05PbI3, accurately predicting the experimentally recorded PL efficiencies between 50 and 295 K, and demonstrating that bimolecular recombination is a fully radiative process.


Postpassivation of Multication Perovskite with Rubidium Butyrate

ACS Photonics American Chemical Society (ACS) (2020) acsphotonics.0c00878

JC Germino, R Szostak, SG Motti, RF Moral, PE Marchezi, HS Seleghini, LG Bonato, FL de Araújo, TDZ Atvars, LM Herz, D Fenning, A Hagfeldt, AF Nogueira


Understanding the Performance-Limiting Factors of Cs2AgBiBr6 Double-Perovskite Solar Cells

ACS ENERGY LETTERS 5 (2020) 2200-2207

G Longo, S Mahesh, LRV Buizza, AD Wright, AJ Ramadan, M Abdi-Jalebi, PK Nayak, LM Herz, HJ Snaith


Preventing phase segregation in mixed-halide perovskites: a perspective

Energy & Environmental Science Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) (2020)

AJ Knight, LM Herz

<p>Halide segregation represents a severe stability problem for certain mixed-halide perovskites. Here we explore a myriad of methods for mitigating halide segregation, including several largely unexplored approaches that show significant promise.</p>


Metal composition influences optoelectronic quality in mixed-metal lead-tin triiodide perovskite solar absorbers

Energy & Environmental Science Royal Society of Chemistry 13 (2020) 1776-1787

M Klug, R Milot, J Patel, T Green, H Sansom, M Farrar, A Ramadan, S Martani, Z Wang, B Wenger, J Ball, L Langshaw, A Petrozza, M Johnston, L Herz, HJ Snaith

Current designs for all-perovskite multi-junction solar cells require mixed-metal Pb-Sn compositions to achieve narrower band gaps than are possible with their neat Pb counterparts. The lower band gap range achievable with mixed-metal Pb-Sn perovskites also encompasses the 1.3 to 1.4 eV range that is theoretically ideal for maximising the efficiency of single-junction devices. Here we examine the optoelectronic quality and photovoltaic performance of the ((HC(NH2)2)0.83Cs0.17)(Pb1-ySny)I3 family of perovskite materials across the full range of achievable band gaps by substituting between 0.001% and 70% of the Pb content with Sn. We reveal that a compositional range of "defectiveness"exists when Sn comprises between 0.5% and 20% of the metal content, but that the optoelectronic quality is restored for Sn content between 30-50%. When only 1% of Pb content is replaced by Sn, we find that photoconductivity, photoluminescence lifetime, and photoluminescence quantum efficiency are reduced by at least an order of magnitude, which reveals that a small concentration of Sn incorporation produces trap sites that promote non-radiative recombination in the material and limit photovoltaic performance. While these observations suggest that band gaps between 1.35 and 1.5 eV are unlikely to be useful for optoelectronic applications without countermeasures to improve material quality, highly efficient narrower band gap absorber materials are possible at or below 1.33 eV. Through optimising single-junction photovoltaic devices with Sn compositions of 30% and 50%, we respectively demonstrate a 17.6% efficient solar cell with an ideal single-junction band gap of 1.33 eV and an 18.1% efficient low band gap device suitable for the bottom absorber in all-perovskite multi-junction cells.


Charge-Carrier Trapping Dynamics in Bismuth-Doped Thin Films of MAPbBr3 Perovskite.

The journal of physical chemistry letters American Chemical Society (ACS) 11 (2020) 3681-3688

AM Ulatowski, AD Wright, B Wenger, LRV Buizza, SG Motti, HJ Eggimann, KJ Savill, J Borchert, HJ Snaith, MB Johnston, LM Herz

Successful chemical doping of metal halide perovskites with small amounts of heterovalent metals has attracted recent research attention because of its potential to improve long-term material stability and tune absorption spectra. However, some additives have been observed to impact negatively on optoelectronic properties, highlighting the importance of understanding charge-carrier behavior in doped metal halide perovskites. Here, we present an investigation of charge-carrier trapping and conduction in films of MAPbBr3 perovskite chemically doped with bismuth. We find that the addition of bismuth has no effect on either the band gap or exciton binding energy of the MAPbBr3 host. However, we observe a substantial enhancement of electron-trapping defects upon bismuth doping, which results in an ultrafast charge-carrier decay component, enhanced infrared emission, and a notable decrease of charge-carrier mobility. We propose that such defects arise from the current approach to Bi-doping through addition of BiBr3, which may enhance the presence of bromide interstitials.


Three-dimensional cross-nanowire networks recover full terahertz state

Science American Association for the Advancement of Science 368 (2020) 510-513

K Peng, D Jevtics, F Zhang, S Sterzl, D Damry, M Rothmann, B Guilhabert, MJ Strain, HH Tan, LM Herz, L Fu, MD Dawson, A Hurtado, C Jagadish, M Johnston

Terahertz radiation encompasses a wide band of the electromagnetic spectrum, spanning from microwaves to infrared light, and is a particularly powerful tool for both fundamental scientific research and applications such as security screening, communications, quality control, and medical imaging. Considerable information can be conveyed by the full polarization state of terahertz light, yet to date, most time-domain terahertz detectors are sensitive to just one polarization component. Here we demonstrate a nanotechnology-based semiconductor detector using cross-nanowire networks that records the full polarization state of terahertz pulses. The monolithic device allows simultaneous measurements of the orthogonal components of the terahertz electric field vector without cross-talk. Furthermore, we demonstrate the capabilities of the detector for the study of metamaterials.


CsPbBr3 nanocrystal films: Deviations from bulk vibrational and optoelectronic properties

Advanced Functional Materials Wiley 30 (2020) 1909904

SG Motti, F Krieg, AJ Ramadan, JB Patel, HJ Snaith, MV Kovalenko, MB Johnston, LM Herz

Metal‐halide perovskites (MHP) are highly promising semiconductors for light‐emitting and photovoltaic applications. The colloidal synthesis of nanocrystals (NCs) is an effective approach for obtaining nearly defect‐free MHP that can be processed into inks for low‐cost, high‐performance device fabrication. However, disentangling the effects of surface ligands, morphology, and boundaries on charge‐carrier transport in thin films fabricated with these high‐quality NCs is inherently difficult. To overcome this fundamental challenge, terahertz (THz) spectroscopy is employed to optically probe the photoconductivity of CsPbBr3 NC films. The vibrational and optoelectronic properties of the NCs are compared with those of the corresponding bulk polycrystalline perovskite and significant deviations are found. Charge‐carrier mobilities and recombination rates are demonstrated to vary significantly with the NC size. Such dependences derive from the localized nature of charge carriers within NCs, with local mobilities dominating over interparticle transport. It is further shown that the colloidally synthesized NCs have distinct vibrational properties with respect to the bulk perovskite, exhibiting blue‐shifted optical phonon modes with enhanced THz absorption strength that also manifest as strong modulations in the THz photoconductivity spectra. Such fundamental insights into NC versus bulk properties will guide the optimization of nanocrystalline perovskite thin films for optoelectronic applications.


Three-dimensional cross-nanowire networks recover full terahertz state.

Science (New York, N.Y.) 368 (2020) 510-513

K Peng, D Jevtics, F Zhang, S Sterzl, DA Damry, MU Rothmann, B Guilhabert, MJ Strain, HH Tan, LM Herz, L Fu, MD Dawson, A Hurtado, C Jagadish, MB Johnston

Terahertz radiation encompasses a wide band of the electromagnetic spectrum, spanning from microwaves to infrared light, and is a particularly powerful tool for both fundamental scientific research and applications such as security screening, communications, quality control, and medical imaging. Considerable information can be conveyed by the full polarization state of terahertz light, yet to date, most time-domain terahertz detectors are sensitive to just one polarization component. Here we demonstrate a nanotechnology-based semiconductor detector using cross-nanowire networks that records the full polarization state of terahertz pulses. The monolithic device allows simultaneous measurements of the orthogonal components of the terahertz electric field vector without cross-talk. Furthermore, we demonstrate the capabilities of the detector for the study of metamaterials.


Control over crystal size in vapor deposited metal-halide perovskite films

ACS Energy Letters American Chemical Society (ACS) 5 (2020) 0c00183

KB Lohmann, JB Patel, MU Rothmann, CQ Xia, RDJ Oliver, LM Herz, HJ Snaith, MB Johnston

Understanding and controlling grain growth in metal halide perovskite polycrystalline thin films is an important step in improving the performance of perovskite solar cells. We demonstrate accurate control of crystallite size in CH3NH3PbI3 thin films by regulating substrate temperature during vacuum co-deposition of inorganic (PbI2) and organic (CH3NH3I) precursors. Films co-deposited onto a cold (−2 °C) substrate exhibited large, micrometer-sized crystal grains, while films that formed at room temperature (23 °C) only produced grains of 100 nm extent. We isolated the effects of substrate temperature on crystal growth by developing a new method to control sublimation of the organic precursor, and CH3NH3PbI3 solar cells deposited in this way yielded a power conversion efficiency of up to 18.2%. Furthermore, we found substrate temperature directly affects the adsorption rate of CH3NH3I, thus impacting crystal formation and hence solar cell device performance via changes to the conversion rate of PbI2 to CH3NH3PbI3 and stoichiometry. These findings offer new routes to developing efficient solar cells through reproducible control of crystal morphology and composition.


Light absorption and recycling in hybrid metal halide perovskites photovoltaic devices

Advanced Energy Materials Wiley 10 (2020) 1903653

J Patel, A Wright, K Lohmann, K Peng, C Xia, J Ball, N Noel, T Crothers, H Snaith, L Herz, M Johnston

The production of highly efficient single‐ and multijunction metal halide perovskite (MHP) solar cells requires careful optimization of the optical and electrical properties of these devices. Here, precise control of CH3NH3PbI3 perovskite layers is demonstrated in solar cell devices through the use of dual source coevaporation. Light absorption and device performance are tracked for incorporated MHP films ranging from ≈67 nm to ≈1.4 µm thickness and transfer‐matrix optical modeling is utilized to quantify optical losses that arise from interference effects. Based on these results, a device with 19.2% steady‐state power conversion efficiency is achieved through incorporation of a perovskite film with near‐optimum predicted thickness (≈709 nm). Significantly, a clear signature of photon reabsorption is observed in perovskite films that have the same thickness (≈709 nm) as in the optimized device. Despite the positive effect of photon recycling associated with photon reabsorption, devices with thicker (>750 nm) MHP layers exhibit poor performance owing to competing nonradiative charge recombination in a “dead‐volume” of MHP. Overall, these findings demonstrate the need for fine control over MHP thickness to achieve the highest efficiency cells, and accurate consideration of photon reabsorption, optical interference, and charge transport properties.


Trap states, electric fields, and phase segregation in mixed-halide perovskite photovoltaic devices

Advanced Energy Materials Wiley 10 (2020) 1903488

A Knight, J Patel, H Snaith, M Johnston, L Herz

Mixed-halide perovskites are essential for use in all-perovskite or perovskite–silicon tandem solar cells due to their tunable bandgap. However, trap states and halide segregation currently present the two main challenges for efficient mixed-halide perovskite technologies. Here photoluminescence techniques are used to study trap states and halide segregation in full mixed-halide perovskite photovoltaic devices. This work identifies three distinct defect species in the perovskite material: a charged, mobile defect that traps charge-carriers in the perovskite, a charge-neutral defect that induces halide segregation, and a charged, mobile defect that screens the perovskite from external electric fields. These three defects are proposed to be MA+ interstitials, crystal distortions, and halide vacancies and/or interstitials, respectively. Finally, external quantum efficiency measurements show that photoexcited charge-carriers can be extracted from the iodide-rich low-bandgap regions of the phase-segregated perovskite formed under illumination, suggesting the existence of charge-carrier percolation pathways through grain boundaries where phase-segregation may occur.


Dual-source co-evaporation of low-bandgap FA1-xCsxSn1-yPbyI3 perovskites for photovoltaics

ACS Energy Letters American Chemical Society 4 (2019) 2748-2756

JM Ball, L Buizza, HC Sansom, Farrar, MT Klug, J Borchert, J Patel, LM Herz, M Johnston, H Snaith


Charge-carrier cooling and polarization memory loss in formamidinium tin triiodide

Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters American Chemical Society 10 (2019) 6038-6047

K Savill, M Klug, RL Milot, H Snaith, L Herz

<p>Combination of a cryogenic ion-trap machine, operated at 4.7 K, with the free-electron-laser FELIX allows the first experimental characterization of the unusually bright antisymmetric stretch (ν<sub>3</sub>) and π-bending (ν<sub>2</sub>) fundamentals of the He–X<sup>+</sup>–He (X = H, D) chromophore of the in situ prepared HHe<sub><em>n</em></sub><sup>+</sup> and DHe<sub><em>n</em></sub><sup>+</sup> (<em>n</em> = 3–6) complexes. The band origins obtained are fully supported by first-principles quantum-chemical computations, performed at the MP2, the CCSD(T), and occasionally the CCSDTQ levels employing extended basis sets. Both the experiments and the computations are consistent with structures for the species with <em>n</em> = 3 and 6 being of T-shaped <em>C</em><sub>2<em>v</em></sub> and of <em>D</em><sub>4<em>h</em></sub> symmetry, respectively, while the species with <em>n</em> = 4 are suggested to exhibit interesting dynamical phenomena related to large-amplitude motions.</p>

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